A joint initiative between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and two Scottish technology companies to deliver accurate winter travel information has secured funding from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The pioneering project, called ‘Make it Local Scotland’, aims to help local authorities maximise use of the vast amounts of data they hold. The idea will allow travellers to access a website which will detail planned gritting routes, the location of grit bins and the status of current gritting operations.  Using a unique referencing system, the exact location of reported travel problems or incidents will be pinpointed and the information will be fed back into the Councils’ internal systems.  Both the road and footpath network will be covered.

Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council are responsible for more than 4000 miles of roads covering urban, rural, coastal and mountain networks.  By partnering with digital media developers who understand how to create the most user friendly systems, the project hopes to reach as many people as possible.  The information will be available online and via mobile phone.

As the project develops, citizens will be encouraged to contribute live updates via a dedicated website and twitter which will ensure that the system is as up to date as possible and provide the kind of timely detailed local information that is impossible to achieve through a central service alone.  In the future, it may also be possible to add live public transport information to the service.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Corporate Services, Christine Gore, said: “I look forward to this project helping Aberdeenshire residents and businesses to plan their local travel using the latest information from different sources and being able to access it on a number of mobile devices.”

Stephen Archer, Director of Infrastructure Services for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Roads maintenance – especially over the winter months – is a vitally important service delivered by Aberdeenshire Council, and sharing the latest information about our operations in this new way will also benefit the travelling public.”

Aberdeen City Council’s Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure director Gordon McIntosh said: “We’re delighted that, thanks to NESTA’s generous funding, we will be able to create a new website which will enable citizens across the North-east to make more informed choices for travelling during adverse weather.

“It also allows us to continue the work we’ve done to date by releasing even more open data. This helps us to engage further with the local developer community, and in so doing stimulate innovation and boost the local economy.”

Jackie McKenzie, Head of Innovation Programmes Scotland for NESTA said: ‘Councils hold huge amounts of data that has the potential to transform the way we all relate to public services if only we could access it.  Through the ‘Make it Local’ campaign, we wanted to bring together digital media developers and pioneering local authorities to show what practical new services could be achieved using existing data.  We’re delighted with the quality of the applications and really excited about the four winning partnerships.’

She continued: “What makes this project unique is the willingness the four councils have shown to work together as they develop their projects. The projects will be live by the autumn and we will be seeking community feedback on their operation