Future Transport in Lambeth

Sponsor: London Borough of Lambeth IQP Group Picture
Sponsor Liaison: John Bennett
Student Team: Sam Carley, Tsering Dolma, Timothy Jones, Connor Weeks
Abstract: Air pollution in London is linked to thousands of deaths every year. This project aimed to aid the Lambeth Council in promoting emissions-based cashless parking payments and integrating smart city technology to maintain revenue, influence future policy, and reduce air pollution. To accomplish this, we analysed existing data, spoke with Council employees, and surveyed and interviewed residents. Combining the ideas of electronic parking payment and smart city technology, we created a web application to demonstrate how applying smart city technology to parking could reduce air pollution. We found that most residents would be willing to adopt an electronic parking payment method for lower prices, although a cash-based alternative in local businesses would be widely accepted.

Future Transport in Lambeth Report

Future Transport in Lambeth Presentation

Lambeth Parking Application

Executive Summary

Background and Objectives

Air pollution is the single greatest environmental health risk, contributing to an estimated 7 million deaths every year and causing illness to millions more (Vidal, 2015). In the city of London, it is illegal for hourly levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution to exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre more than 18 times annually (Forster, 2017). However, just five days into 2017 the Mayor’s office was forced to declare a state of alert after it was found this yearly limit had already been breached on Brixton Road in the London Borough of Lambeth (Forster, 2017). Lambeth, home to one of the highest concentrations of air pollution in the city, tasked us with investigating possible solutions for their community.

The Lambeth Council requested that we focus on the local transportation sector as it relates to air pollution. The Council has incentivised the use of low emissions vehicles by offering discounted parking permits since 2011 but would now like to implement emissions-based pricing for short term parking. Problems arise however, as the pay and display machines currently in place are too outdated to identify the emissions level of the parked vehicles or even offer more than one standard price.

The Lambeth Council is also planning to use a system called PayPoint to process parking payments. PayPoint can be used as a cash and card alternative, where the user can pay for parking from a local convenience store. There are currently 350 PayPoint locations throughout the Borough. However, these locations are not currently configured for parking transactions, instead only handling bill payments and other services. With the ability to collect data from Pay by Phone transactions, the Council is also excited for the opportunity to integrate smart city technology into the community. Smart cities are ideally meant to better integrate utilities, optimising their performance, so the community as a whole can save both money and resources, diminish health and pollution problems, and improve general functionality. This can allow information to be shared between different public services, ideally optimising one’s time in the Borough and allowing more educated policy development.

The overall focus of this project was to provide recommendations to the Lambeth Council promoting cashless parking payments and integrating smart city technology in the Borough to cut costs and reduce air pollution. To achieve this goal, we developed four objectives:

  1. Assess the current state of parking payments in Lambeth
  2. Investigate public response to potential developments in parking and transportation
  3. Project future motor vehicle and smart city technology trends
  4. Use our research to prototype an example smart city application


As we worked to fulfil the overall goal of the project, we used four distinct methods: data analysis, observation, surveying the public, and interviews. Once we began working with the Council, our first task was to analyse national census data and annual Borough reports to recognise trends that relate to car usage and air pollution. We mainly analysed citizens’ primary travel methods, the availability of cars in each household in the Borough of Lambeth, population density, as well as energy consumption by motor vehicles. We then used documents more specific to Lambeth to gain an understanding of trends within the Borough. We additionally examined the use of smart city technology in similar locations to determine the feasibility of integrating such technology in the future of the Borough. This allowed us to project future technology trends in Lambeth concerning both parking and transportation in general.

Based upon reputable accounts on the success of direct observation methods, we resolved to better understand patterns and behaviours of those residents who park in Lambeth by shadowing two Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) who monitor parking in the different wards to get a sense of what they experience every day. This observation helped us assess the current state of parking in the Borough of Lambeth and allowed us to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of various parking payment methods, especially cash and Pay by Phone.

We developed a survey to assess residents’ views concerning air pollution, car usage, and the Pay by Phone parking payment method. Prior to releasing the survey, we pre-tested it with our sponsor to gain feedback concerning possible improvements. Through the information obtained in this survey, we gained a general view of the public’s opinion regarding air pollution, parking payment methods, and future transportation in the Borough.

To further build and expand our knowledge of the Lambeth parking system, we interviewed residents and the Council employees of the Borough concerning the current state of parking and existing initiatives. From the analysis of the Council interviews, we were able to obtain in-depth knowledge on the background of the current parking initiatives, the current status of the parking system, as well as car usage and smart city technology. From the interviews of residents, we could learn about their opinions concerning air pollution, technology, and circumstances that discourage them from using Pay by Phone.

After being exposed to both the Council’s plan to implement a 100% electronic parking payment system and their interest in integrating smart city technology in the Borough, we began to consider ways to combine these ideas. We concluded that a portion of the data collected by the Pay by Phone application could also be used to give both the Council and residents real-time information concerning parking locations in the Borough. Using this idea as a foundation, we created an example web application for the Council to demonstrate how smart city technology could be used in the scope of parking.


Of the 82 survey respondents who owned cars, 49 regularly parked in the Borough. When these individuals were asked about their preferred payment methods, a majority (59.2%) preferred the Pay by Phone method. This finding reflected the raw data supplied to us by the Council on payment methods in the Borough. When asked why they preferred their payment method of choice, a majority of survey subjects indicated that convenience was a main factor, regardless of what method they used. When asked, 60% of survey subjects who preferred cash or card payment methods stated that lower prices when using Pay by Phone would encourage them to switch, and 30% responded that an improved mobile app would encourage them to switch. However, no subjects stated that emissions-based pricing would encourage them to switch to Pay by Phone.

Some of the residents interviewed were aware how Pay by Phone worked but were still opposed to switching from their primarily cash payments. However, they were very interested in the concept of PayPoint, where there would be a cash option available at kiosks or local businesses.

Regarding the use of smart city technology, interviewees generally supported data collection through mobile applications, although two were opposed to “strengthening the government by allowing them to view any more information, even if it was anonymised.”  People were almost equally supportive of the Borough-supported floating car club concept. However, while non-car owners were in favour of personally using floating car clubs in the future, car owners showed more passive support, generally saying in interviews that while it is a good idea, they would not consider getting rid of their personal vehicles.

Figure 1. Likelihood of Floating Car Club Adoption by Vehicle Ownership

lolFinally, we created an example app to demonstrate how smart city technology could be used to enhance parking in the Borough for both cars users and the Council. It allows users to view available parking in the Borough through an interactive map and allows the Council to set emissions-based prices in real time (see Figure 2). The app can be accessed here: https://lambeth17.herokuapp.com

Figure 2. Interactive Map of Lambeth Parking Zones

IQP App Map Zone Level 2
Our application has three modes: 1) a user mode for car users, 2) an administrator mode for the Council, and 3) an edit mode for development and demonstration. User mode allows car users to view available parking within the Borough, highlighting parking locations based on their occupancy. Areas with available parking are highlighted in green, while areas without are highlighted in red. Administrator mode allows the Council to set emissions-based prices in real time and set estimated capacities for each parking location. Edit mode allows developers to demonstrate zone level changes and create new parking locations.



The crux of our work was ultimately to guide the Council on the best next steps regarding the future of transportation in Lambeth. Separated into short-term and long-term recommendations, we offered guidance with regards to the following:

Short-term Actions

We first recommended the Council prioritise the elimination of pay and display machines in favour of Pay by Phone and PayPoint locations throughout the Borough to implement an emissions-based pricing scheme. The machines proved to be overwhelmingly unpopular amongst both Council employees, who found them to be a cash sink that would never generate enough money to justify their maintenance, as well as residents, who felt they sometimes malfunctioned. The PayPoint system will serve as a cash and card alternative for users who are not able or willing to use Pay by Phone.

  1. PayPoint has the potential to carry with it many of the same benefits to the Council that Pay by Phone does. There is no cost to adjust prices, with the increased price of using cash ideally counteracting the cost to the Council of using the Pay by Phone and PayPoint third-party services. We recommended that the Council require users to register for PayPoint using information similar to Pay by Phone. This integrates the two systems together, allowing the Council to enforce emissions-based pricing for all users.
  2. Some members of the public are either unaware of the Pay by Phone method or uninformed concerning its functionality. We recommended that the Council take actions to raise awareness of the Pay by Phone payment method.  We suggest that pay and display machines, and in the future PayPoint locations, be equipped with revised graphics showing visual instructions on how to use the Pay by Phone system, including the app, text, and call functionality.
  3. We recommended that the Council contact the developers of Pay by Phone to request an update to their application to reflect the data-sharing ideas presented in the example application. If Pay by Phone is not willing to extend their app, we recommend that the Council ask Pay by Phone to create a way to access relevant data or consider a change of parking payment contractor.

Long-term Actions

We imagine the app to be the platform from which Lambeth could truly start building smart city technology and big data collection. The benefit of having the bulk of the population linked into an online service is the ability to use data and information to further improve the experience of living in the Borough. Future policy decisions can be better derived by focusing more on real-time, consistent data collected via systems such as our smart city app to model behaviour of people in the Borough with a limited scope of information. We believe that if Lambeth commits significant resources to looking at large data sets in this manner, predicting future trends will become universally more accurate.

The Council should seek to integrate floating car club contracts as a source of revenue. Mutually beneficial contracts with these companies can provide Lambeth residents with convenient travel options and grant the Council a source of revenue comparable to those of parking permits as well as control of the types of cars on the street.  This would then allow the Council to limit air pollution in the Borough using low-emissions or electric car club vehicles.