A £1.6m research project at Lancaster University aims to enable road and rail travelers to share information about their journeys such as the best routes to use to avoid delays.

Our Travel is a travel information tool built on social networking, with direct information from transport workers feeding into the system. The aim is to reduce congestion and improve the UK transport system as users find more efficient ways to travel.

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It will be available on mobile apps, providing up-to-the-minute information so people can decide how and when they will travel.

Professor Nigel Davies, from the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster Universty’s InfoLab21 said:

“The key is that this is information from other travellers or workers repairing the roads.  There is no third party involvement so it’s very direct and from a trusted source. Our Travel enables people to create a community of people who share the same journey and who can update each other about, say, a tree on the route or roadworks. You can check your mobile and find out that someone else who has just done your trip into work is reporting flooding under the bridge, or the wrong leaves on the track.”

Our Travel could also be used to inform people of roadworks, winter gritting, and any potential delay-causing event.  Once the work is scheduled on the Our Travel system, it informs travelers of the potential impact on their journeys and it also enables users to provide feedback to companies on how the work has affected them.

Professor Davies said:

“At the moment, local news updates or radio travel news will only give you a general overview and will not be specific about your route. Even motorway signs warning of delays can be out-of-date by the time you drive past.”

Our Travel is part funded by the Technology Strategy Board, and developed and trialled by Lancaster University in collaboration with the Morecambe company In Touch Ltd, and Carillion plc.

The project sounds similar to Waze, which is a social mobile application that provides turn-by-turn navigation based on the live conditions of the road, and we reported last year that the Israeli startup was teaming up with media organizations to relay traffic conditions to reporters.