Oxford University partners with Oxford Bus Company to pinpoint Oxford pollution hotspots

Researchers from the Department of Engineering Science are collaborating with the Oxford Bus Company to conduct a detailed emissions study on buses across the city.

Department of Engineering Science partners with Oxford Bus Company to pinpoint ‘pollution hotspots’ in Oxford City Centre.

Dr Felix Leach, Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Department of Engineering Science, has been measuring NOx emissions on buses on key routes operating within the city. NOx – oxides of Nitrogen – is formed when combustion occurs in the presence of nitrogen in areas of high traffic. Using highly accurate Global Positioning Systems (GPS), the emissions measurements can identify exactly where NOx is emitted to within 30cm.

NOx emissions are a well-known pollutant which is harmful to human health, particularly for existing heart and lung conditions. NOx levels in Oxford vary significantly, with some areas having high levels. The study will help establish exactly where in Oxford NOx is being produced and whether any changes can be made to reduce levels. This could include better road layouts, revised traffic calming and other measures to avoid buses staying longer than is necessary in one place.

Dr Leach says: “I am delighted to be collaborating with Oxford Bus Company, Oxford City Council, and Cambustion on this very significant and world leading study of NOx emissions in the city centre and its surroundings. Oxford Bus Company’s visionary support in enabling us to perform detailed measurements on buses in service is unique”.

“The accurate real world data that we have collected is allowing our research team to identify the precise locations and causes of NOx emissions in the city – be they due to the placement of a speed-bump or a set of traffic lights. The understanding gained from this data will enable the development of more effective operating strategies for NOx reduction, which should lead to improved air quality for everyone.”

Under Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council proposals the city centre could become the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone, which would see all polluting vehicles phased out from 2020. As vehicle technology develops it is proposed the Zero Emissions Zone will extend to cover all non-electric vehicles across the city centre by 2035.

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, says, “We have collaborated with the University of Oxford to really establish where the pollution hotpots are in key areas of the City and what measures can be utilised to reduce them in conjunction with and in addition to the Zero Emission Zone. We believe this forensic analysis will be of great benefit to key stakeholders in shaping the future of the city”.

Dr Leach will be measuring emissions on buses again later in July, on the number 5 route to Blackbird Leys.

This article first appeared on the website of the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford on 28th June 2018.

Seminar: the impact of rapid urbanisation

An Oxford multidisciplinary seminar – part of the Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange series

Around 1.5 million people are moving into the world’s cities every week. By 2050 there will be an additional 2 billion urban citizens mostly concentrated in developing countries. It places huge demands on infrastructure, housing, services, job creation, climate and environment. At the same time it presents opportunities for business, society and sustainable growth.

This seminar set out to explore the impact of rapid urbanisation, the critical lack of capacity amongst some of the most vulnerable countries and how the past may hold the key to unlocking sustainable development.

The University of Oxford asked four leading voices in the field to share their knowledge, research and pitch their views on the subject. This event is one in a series examining key urban issues.

This article first appeared on the website of the University of Oxford on 27th June 2018.

Oxford Robotics Institute to put a team of robots to the test at Blenheim

The Oxford Robotics Institute (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford) is to put a team of robots to the test at Blenheim as part of a new joint initiative.

Ranging from driverless cars to legged robots, the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site will be used as a proving ground for a range of robotic platforms over the coming months.

Initially a specially-adapted ORI Range Rover, developed in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover, will drive around the tracks of High Park – home to the greatest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe.

The Range Rover is equipped with vision and Lidar sensors which will allow ORI to gather data in an off-road forestry environment. This will be used to test algorithms for localisation and perception for autonomy in challenging environments. The data will also provide a valuable source of information to those researching the ancient woodland.

The plan is to trial other robotic platforms; including legged robots within different areas of the Estate.

It is hoped the new collaboration between the University of Oxford and Blenheim will also provide a unique chance for cutting-edge STEM education and outreach work to be carried out within a hugely historic environment.

Jointly the aim is to increase awareness of Robotics and AI to society in general and also to provide Blenheim Palace visitors with a greater understanding of this fascinating and fastgrowing technological sector.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Blenheim to support the Oxford Robotics Institute who are at the forefront of developing technology and it marks the beginning of a much closer relationship between ourselves and University of Oxford” said Roy Cox, Head of Estates at Blenheim.

The Oxford Robotics Institute enjoys a world leading reputation in mobile autonomy, developing machines and robots which map, navigate through and understand their environments.

Professor Paul Newman, director of ORI, said: “The ORI’s collaboration with Blenheim represents the opportunity to join the old with the new, to run and represent in juxtaposition much of what’s great about Oxfordshire’s history and its future. Great robots in a great place”.

This article originally appeared on the website of University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science on 26th June 2018.

Oxfordshire aims to be a national leader in tackling air pollution with ‘zero emission zone’

As leaders from England’s most car-polluted cities meet the environment secretary, Michael Gove, today, Oxfordshire councils are pushing ahead with bold proposals to create the world’s first zero-emission zone in Oxford and initiatives to tackle air quality in other congestion hotspots in the county, including Abingdon, Henley and Wallingford.

The county and Oxford city councils are currently looking at ambitious proposals to create a zero emission zone (ZEZ) in the city. This would be a long-term project to enable road users and transport operators to plan for the necessary changes, including the use of zero emission vehicles.

Despite a 37% per cent reduction in levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide across Oxford in the last decade, parts of the city centre are still failing to meet the legal limit on the pollutant.

The proposals also assume the technology and take up of zero emission electrical vehicles will continue to accelerate. The first steps in creating a zero-emission zone in Oxford could be in place as early as 2020.

Public consultation in 2017 showed strong support for the ZEZ but also emphasised the need for the two councils to support businesses, transport operators and the public in making the transition. The ambition is to ensure that Oxfordshire becomes a leader in tackling transport challenges linked to air pollution.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Planning and Place Sue Halliwell said:

“Oxford has been identified as a city with a major air quality problem and we are looking at a range of long-term measures to tackle congestion and reduce pollution, including a zero emission zone.

“We are delighted that the environment secretary is making this issue a national priority and believe Oxfordshire has an opportunity to become a national leader in tackling air pollution through bold transport initiatives.”

The ZEZ is part of a strategy to reduce congestion and pollution in Oxford by rolling out segregated cycle routes, bus priority, electric charging points, and other measures.

The city and county councils have agreed in principle to progress the plans to the next stage, following discussions with transport operators and other stakeholders. Detailed proposals are now being developed for further consultation with stakeholders, including residents and local businesses.

There are several air quality hotspots outside Oxford, including Henley, Wallingford, Watlington, Abingdon, Botley and Marcham. Options for tackling air quality in those areas are actively being developed by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils and the county council. In November 2017, South Oxfordshire District Council adopted a Low Emission Strategy.

This article first appeared on the website of Oxfordshire County Council on 20th June 2018.

Oxford Brookes student wins investment for app tackling accessibility in cities

A postgraduate student from the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes has won investment after competing in University Alliance’s national Enterprise Stars competition.

Last week (14 June) University Alliance ran their annual Alliance-wide showcase and a competition to attract investment for student start-ups.

Enterprise Stars 2018 is a programme with student experience at its heart and aims to find the enterprise stars of tomorrow.

The one-day enterprise festival was hosted by Salford University at MediaCityUK culminating in the opportunity for students to win investment and business advice from a panel of investors.

Entrants from 13 universities pitched their ideas and Sophia Bannert, studying MArchD Applied Design in Architecture at Oxford Brookes, was one of three successful winners.

She scooped £1,000 for her Bee-Able app which aims to transform cities into places of equality and inclusivity, whether people are wheelchair users, visually impaired, parents with pushchairs or just carrying heavy suitcases. Sophia is drawing on her studies to devise a tool to tackle the physical and social barriers in cities for people with disabilities or access needs.

Bee-Able is currently seeking seed funding – so I am delighted to have won this investment from Enterprise Stars, which will help to propel Bee-Able into the pilot stage, and start to tackle inaccessible cities.

– Sophia Bannert, MArchD Applied Design in Architecture, Oxford Brookes University

She has developed a prototype map-based app which allows users to rate and review their city’s accessibility. It also allows them to find out which are the most accessible businesses and book ahead, with confidence, through the use of ‘scores’ on the doors of top-rated places and venues. For those businesses with low scores, Bee-Able will also offer bespoke architectural, planning and project management apps to address any accessibility issues highlighted by app users.

Last year Sophia’s project won a design award from the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).

Commenting on her win, Sophia said: “Over the past year I have been continuing to develop Bee-Able, with the support and guidance of some fantastic mentors including the Enterprise Support team at Oxford Brookes, from whom I was very grateful to receive an Enterprise Support Award in March.

“Bee-Able is currently seeking seed funding – so I am delighted to have won this investment from Enterprise Stars, which will help to propel Bee-Able into the pilot stage, and start to tackle inaccessible cities.”

Investors at the event included Tim Foster MBE, social entrepreneur and Olympic gold medallist, who works as a professional business coach mentor to major companies as well as mentoring students at Oxford Brookes University.

More information about Enterprise Stars 2018 can be found on University Alliance’s website.

Visit the School of Architecture’s website to find out about available undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

This article first appeared on the website of Oxford Brookes University on 18th June 2018.
Image credit: University of Salford, Sophia Bannert (second from left) and Tim Foster, MBE (first on the right)

Oxfordshire – a council in the thick of mobility innovation

Local Transport Today recently interviewed Smart Oxford’s Llewelyn Morgan – Oxfordshire County Council’s service manager for infrastructure, innovation and development.

He talked about how Oxfordshire is actively engaged in smart mobility, and about how Smart Oxford partners are playing an important role exploring opportunities in the county’s ambitions for mobility innovation.

Click here to read the full story: part 1 | part 2

Oxford event: How Transport Innovation will power the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor

9:30am – 1:30pm
Tuesday 17th July
Said Business School, University of Oxford

Mobility Oxford (MobOx), Oxfordshire County Council, and the Transport Systems Catapult would like to invite you to this latest showcase event in Oxford, focusing on ‘How Transport Innovation will power the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor’.

The event will take place on Tuesday 17th July between 9:30am and 1:30pm at the Said Business School, University of Oxford and will be held in partnership with The Transport Systems Catapults (TSC) and Oxfordshire County Council.

The conference will explore developments in the Intelligent Mobility and Transport Innovation sector, and also offer support and guidance to growing businesses to help them bridge the gap between new innovations and commercial success.

Mobox welcomes all SMEs and businesses who work within these exciting sector.

Find our more and and register a free ticket here

Oxford event – Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange: Rapid Urbanisation

A multidisciplinary seminar, as part of the Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange series, will be held on Wednesday 13th June at 17:00-19:00 in the Kellogg College Hub, Oxford.

Around 1.5 million people are moving into the world’s cities every week. By 2050 there will be an additional 2 billion urban citizens mostly concentrated in developing countries. It places huge demands on infrastructure, housing, services, job creation, climate and environment. At the same time it presents opportunities for business, society and sustainable growth.

This seminar sets out to explore the impact of rapid urbanisation, the critical lack of capacity amongst some of the most vulnerable countries and how the past may hold the key to unlocking sustainable development.

Kellogg College has asked four leading voices in the field to share their knowledge, research and pitch their views on the subject. This is the next event in their series examining key urban issues, aimed to provoke some lively debate.


  • Peter Oborn, Vice President, Commonwealth Association of Architects & Ben Bolgar, Senior Director, Prince’s Foundation
  • Simon Gathercole, Allies and Morrison

Chair: Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

This event is free and open to all. Booking is required, via Eventbrite.

Oxford to have world’s first pop-up electric vehicle charging points

The city of Oxford has been awarded £474,000 to become the first city in the world to trial ‘pop-up’ on-street electric vehicle charging points.

Residents across Oxford are being encouraged to nominate their street to take part in the project, which will see 20 ‘UEone’ retractable pavement bollards installed on streets with on road, off pavement parking. The scheme will be available to residents who currently have electric vehicles, and those who want to own an electric vehicle.

The UEone was developed specifically to provide charging for the 43% of UK households who have on-street parking.  The charging points will be app-operated and will retract underground when not in use.

The UEone uses the same SmartCable as Ubitricity lamp posts, allowing residents to charge at any UEone retractable bollard or Ubitricity lamp post.

The successful bid was made in partnership with Duku, Urban Electric and Oxford City Council and has been awarded £473,595 of funding. The overall cost of the project will be £600,000, with the remaining funding coming from Urban Electric via private investment.

The ‘pop-up’ charging points will be made by Urban Electric Networks, which led the bid. The City Council’s Sustainable Cities Team will work with Oxford Direct Services and Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) to facilitate installation. Oxford Direct Services will be the installation contractor for the project.

The funding was awarded under Innovate UK’s strand 2 Infrastructure Systems competition. Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

The project will support the existing Go Ultra Low Oxford on-street residential charging project.

The Go Ultra Low project is a trial by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, aiming to reduce air pollution and further lower Oxford’s carbon emissions.  It has been made possible by a £800,000 grant from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). The scheme has seen 100 electric vehicle charging points installed in residential streets across Oxford. It is thought to be the first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world.

In order to tackle harmful air pollution levels across Oxford, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council announced plans in October 2017 to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.

The zone will restrict vehicles in phases, taking into account the best available technology, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, moves to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.

Its full implementation would take air pollution levels in Oxford city centre down to near-background levels. For example in the city centre’s most polluted street, George Street, a 74 per cent reduction in toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels is expected by 2035.

The new money is part of a wide range of Oxford City Council projects – worth £3.25m in total – to help businesses and residents prepare for the Zero Emission Zone, including securing:

Earlier this year (March), following a landmark legal ruling, the Government pledged “a more formal approach” to supporting the City Council in tackling Oxford’s illegal levels of air pollution.

The City Council, along with partners Green TV and Electric Drives will be hosting the Oxford EV Summit on Wednesday 4 July and Thursday 5 July, bringing together leaders and key players from across the electric vehicle and charging infrastructure industry.

Ian Meikle, Innovate UK Director Clean Growth and Infrastructure, said:  “Improving air quality in cities right across the world is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for UK businesses, which is why Innovate UK and the Government’s Industrial Strategy are supporting projects like this one in Oxford. Making sure we have the right infrastructure to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles is a key part of meeting the air quality challenge and if successful, this exciting project has the potential to be rolled out across the whole country, so we’re very interested to see how it progresses.”

Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson, Cofounder at Urban Electric said: “The cheapest, most convenient and grid-friendly way to charge an EV is at home at night, yet up to 85% of households in some urban residential areas cannot do so because they park on-street, acting as a barrier to EV adoption.

By giving certainty of access to a home-based charge point for on-street residential parking zones, the UEone makes it possible for local authorities to enable the 11.3m UK households currently excluded from driving an EV with the ability to do so without spoiling street aesthetics.

By installing an over-supply of charging bollards in a street from day one we are creating an abundance of charging spaces that will give consumers without off-street parking the confidence to switch to an EV”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Executive Board Member for Safer and Greener Environment, said: “Everything Oxford does to tackle emissions has to be practical if it’s going to be effective. We have set ourselves the big goal of introducing the world’s first zero-emissions zone to clean up our toxic and illegal air. But, we will only achieve that goal if we support and encourage local drivers to replace their older polluting vehicles with cleaner versions. I’m thrilled that the Council has secured funding to support the world’s first pop-up electric vehicle charging points trial, and that this sits within our practical approach to cleaning up our dirty air.


Residents who want to become involved in the trial should email Go Ultra Low on b>goultralow@oxford.gov.uk with the subject line ‘Oxpops’. 

Oxehealth: developing a better way to care for dementia patients

The Oxehealth activity monitoring solution

Every 3 seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia. Furthermore, dementia has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in the UK.

Caring for patients with the condition can be challenging, with monitoring often limited to time-consuming physical checks by staff. Now, Oxford-based company, Oxehealth, has developed a way of improving the care of patients by combining computer algorithms with optical sensors. This enables staff to monitor activity like getting out of bed or leaving a room, as well as the patient’s vital signs, heart rate and breathing rate in real time and to medical-grade accuracy.

Oxehealth offers software as a service (SaaS) solutions to professional carers who have a duty of care to a vulnerable person in a room. This enables carers to receive alerts when the system detects care-relevant events. They can then access a live video feed and choose to intervene if they decide it’s needed.

A world-first for patient monitoring

Hugh Lloyd-Jukes, chief executive, commented:

Oxehealth has achieved a world first. We have never before had the capability to constantly monitor a patient’s heart rate, breathing rate, activity and other routine data in this way.

We will, in time, fuse this data together using artificial intelligence so there’s no reason why we can’t use the same technology in the future to detect worsening dementia, or even its onset. This could give us a world where we can detect conditions such as dementia much earlier.

Patients could stay in their own homes or wherever they’re most comfortable without the need to come to hospital. That will save everyone a huge amount of time, money and stress.

Oxehealth is testing the software to remotely monitor patients on the dementia ward at the Manor Hospital in Coventry. This pioneering work has been highlighted in a recent BBC documentary.

Technology to benefit hospitals and prisons

The same technology can also be used to improve the monitoring of people detained in secure mental health hospitals, prisons and police custody suites. These people are often at risk from self-harm, intoxication from drugs or alcohol, or underlying conditions, injuries and complications from medication.

It isn’t always possible to use contact devices with these high-risk subjects as they could use wired devices for self-harm or attacks on staff.

The Oxehealth solution, which was funded with help from an Innovate UK grant saw the company work with Broadmoor Hospital to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings. It’s also being used in nursing homes and for remote care in patients’ own homes.

Oxehealth has been working to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings.

Oxehealth has been working to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings.

A growth in sales and staff

The Oxehealth solutions that don’t need medical device certification became available to customers in 2017 and the company will launch a partner programme for resellers later this year. The vital sign functionality is subject to medical device certification and is not yet available to buy.

The response from investors has been impressive – in 2017, Oxehealth succeeded in raising £3.6 million. And, since starting work on this project, Oxehealth has more than doubled its staff to 25.

In August 2017, Oxehealth’s team won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Colin Campbell Mitchell Award for the ‘greatest contribution to the advancement of any field of engineering’.

This article first appeared on the GOV.UK website news pages on 20th April 2018.