Green Tech South-West showcased some of the region’s most exciting Green Tech organisations as part of Bristol Technology Festival. On Thursday, November 12th ‘Five Bristol & Bath Green Tech Innovators’ took the virtual stage.
Can you tell us more about Sustrans and what they do?
Flora: Sustrans is the charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle. We aim to create healthier places and happier people where everyone can thrive without having to use a car. Notably, we are the custodians of the National Cycle Network, a UK-wide network of cycle paths for everyone. These paths connect cities, towns and countryside and are loved by the communities they serve. We also work hard to ensure that the benefits of walking and cycling are enjoyed by all, as we understand they aren’t necessarily experienced in the same way by everyone.
How are Sustrans using digital technology to achieve their goals?
Flora: Sustrans employs an array of technology to achieve their aims. With 650 employees, 3000 volunteers and 30000 supporters, technology is an integral part of facilitating communication, research and policy between our offices all over the UK.
For me, I am a GIS officer which essentially means I make maps, but I also carry out data analysis and am involved with web development. I sit within the Research and Monitoring Unit where my colleagues crunch numbers and produce reports to inform our work on the ground.
In the wider organisation there is the volunteer team who work with our dedicated volunteers and engage with them using technology. We also have in-house ecologists and engineers who use digital technology to visualise their research, carry out surveys in the field as well as many more applications. Sustrans also works very closely with schools and communities and we value the voice of the public. We have a lot of projects that employ digital technology to allow people to be heard. As you can see, there is a lot going on!
What has the effect of Coronavirus been on walking and cycling this year?
Flora: During lockdown, there was a great increase in people taking up active travel as a mode of transport. Many were not comfortable using public transport and people were generally making shorter journeys. There was a notable increase in Key Workers taking up walking and cycling to get to work and in response to this, myself and the Brand and Marketing team created the Cycles4KeyWorkers map. This is an interactive, digital map that highlighted all the cycle shops and facilities that are open. Cycle shops were permitted to remain open during lockdown and we wanted to highlight these to ensure that our valuable key workers could access any support they needed. We also worked with some of the shops who provided special offers for Key Workers and these were highlighted on the map. To date, the map has had nearly 85,000 views!
What’s next for Sustrans from a digital perspective?
Flora: In the GIS team, we have spent the last year rolling out new technology (ArcGIS) to the organisation and training people how to use it. We have nearly 450 colleagues using the system already, and naturally, there was great uptake when we all started working from home. The new technology has already revolutionised and digitised some long-standing projects and we hope to continue on this trajectory!
Thank you Flora for the chat. Flora will take the virtual stage at our Green Tech SW meetup on Thursday 12th of November at 12.30 pm.