In the latest TransiT Hub Podcast, Dr Jamie Blanche introduces some of the TransiT core delivery team and finds out why they’re excited to be involved in the project. We’re sharing some excerpts of those conversations in our new ‘Meet the TransiT team series’.
First up, is Programme Manager, Dr Janey Andrews.
Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Dr Janey Andrews and I work at the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight at Heriot Watt University. Long ago my PhD was on the environmental performance of small manufacturing companies and what are the factors that influence change, so I’ve got a reasonably good understanding of the pressures that businesses face when they’re making difficult decisions on investment in clean technology.
Since then, my career has gone in all sorts of interesting directions including research management and building research collaborations internationally with many different academics, ensuring that research delivers real-world impact.
I’ve been lucky enough to support research in the energy sector, in education, health and climate change. And joining Phil Greening’s team, relatively late in my career, has been really inspiring and a boost to my enthusiasm. It’s opened my eyes to the challenges of decarbonisation in the freight and logistics sector, which I had been fairly ignorant of until I started this work a couple of years ago.
Q2. What is your role as part of the TransiT team?
I am the plate juggler! As programme manager, I am responsible for bringing together key players to ensure that the research hub targets are met and that we ask and address the right questions to help policy makers and businesses use digital technologies effectively and speed up the transition to decarbonise transport. We have to have real and meaningful conversations with a huge number of people in a very, very short space of time and I have to check that we’re all pulling in the same direction and working as a team. I feel really lucky to be part of such a great team.
Q3. What excites you about being part of the transit project?
You know, I’ve been banging the drum about climate change and energy transition for a very, very long time and, in the early years, we did feel very much that we were just calling out in the darkness. And it’s a great relief, at last, to feel that my own personal sense of urgency is at last shared by business leaders and policymakers. Nobody knows the answer and it’s not a simple plug-and-play solution. We’ve all got different ideas, technologies and experience to share.
TransiT is trying to break down some of those silos and help us to share ideas.
It’s one thing that we can all make our individual personal choices about our Electric Vehicles or where we do our shopping but this is so much bigger. We need whole system modelling and it’s great that we’ve got these brilliant researchers that can help us to understand some of the really critical choices that have to be made now, not in 10 years time.
We need to be making tough choices now in a very, very uncertain future so the modelling allows us to have a look into that uncertain future and get a slightly better idea of where we might be heading. And I really hope that gives us the confidence to make the brave choices that need to be made for the sake of our children’s futures.
Q4. TransiT stands for essentially digital twins for transport decarbonisation. What are the potential benefits of that?
I’m not the expert in this, but I’ve listened to a lot and what is really clear to me is that we need tools to help us imagine the impacts of the choices that we have to make today. We can’t be thinking small anymore. There are huge financial risks in making the wrong choices, and that’s holding back change. Modelling how all our transport systems operate across all modes, for freight and passengers, is an enormous task but we have to tackle it without making decisions in isolation. We really need this whole system of thinking, digital twinning and modelling to identify the consistent factors, which’ll offer us a little bit more certainty in very, very uncertain times.
Q5. What makes the TransiT project significant?
We’re pulling together a very diverse group of people and many of them are already saying that we need to be talking even more widely to capture the full spectrum of experiences out there. These discussions are helping to map the digital sphere that will allow us to look ahead because companies need to make decisions now. They need to be buying trucks, they need to be building warehouse, and they need to know the energy that’ll power these things. We want to help them make those choices at the right time.
You can listen to Jamie’s full chat with Janey on The TransiT Hub Podcast on SoundCloud.