A major European project aimed at delivering green traffic management systems in European cities and towns will be officially launched at the National Space Centre in Leicester on Wednesday (Jan 18).
The project - which brings together research clusters from five European regions - is being led by the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council and will help establish the East Midlands region as an international leader in traffic management research. Other local partners are De Montfort University, The University of Nottingham and Astrium Services (Leicester).
The local partners will be working in partnership with research clusters from the Molise region in Italy, the Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine regions in France and the Mazovia region in Poland.
Funding of €2.7 million (£2.4 million) has been secured from the European Commission for the project with the University of Leicester acting as scientific lead and Leicester City Council assuming the role of accountable body for the overall project.
Called THE ISSUE (Transport Health Environment - Intelligent Solutions Sustaining Urban Economies), the three-year project will support scientists, engineers and development agencies from the different regions to work together, using the latest space and information technologies, to develop more effective methods of easing road congestion and improving the urban environment.
Ultimately, it is hoped that the research outcomes will be used to influence future policy and the implementation of traffic management systems that benefit public health and safety.
Around 70 delegates from all the partner regions and representatives from business, other universities and local authorities will gather at a launch conference for THE ISSUE Project at the National Space Centre. It will include speakers from all participating organisations.
Cllr Rory Palmer, deputy city mayor and cabinet lead on transport and climate change, will give a welcome address to delegates at the conference.
He said: "THE ISSUE Project is an excellent example of our commitment to working closely with Leicester's two universities, and other partners, to the benefit of all people in the city and, in this case, much further afield.
"Making Leicester a low carbon city is one of our main priorities and this kind of research will be essential to helping tackle issues around congestion and air quality in the future. I am proud that the city council can help make this work possible."
Professor Alan Wells, at the University of Leicester's Space Research Centre, is the scientific leader of the project. He said: "With the EU funding we have secured, we can now coordinate different research activities in the same general areas of traffic and the environment that are being carried out by partners from across Europe. These sort of outcomes have never been brought together in this way before.
"The scientific teams at the heart of the project will be working closely with the bodies responsible for managing traffic, transport and air quality in the UK and European regions to explore how this research can be of value to them.
"Our aim is to draw on the strengths of industry and academics working in partnership. We have to be mindful at all stages of the connection between research, policy and how what we are developing can make a difference to the quality of people's lives."
THE ISSUE is funded as part of the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme - 'Regions of Knowledge', which promotes knowledge exchange and joint working between European regions to stimulate economic growth and job creation.
Note to editors: media opportunities will be available during THE ISSUE Project conference launch at the National Space Centre, Exploration Drive (LE4 5NS) on Wednesday, January 18 2012 from 10am.
For more information about the research element of the project contact Professor Alan Wells at the University of Leicester on 0116 229 7715.