National Centre for Energy Systems Integration

Staff Profile

Professor Phil Blythe

Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems, Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, Vice President IET and former Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Transport (2015-2021)


PROFESSOR PHIL BLYTHE CEng, FIET is Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems and served as Director of the Transport Operations Research Group at Newcastle University for 13 years until stepping down from this post in June 2015 to take up a three year, 3-day a week appointment as Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Transport (DfT).

Phil continues as Professor of ITS in part time capacity during this period focusing on research project generation and delivery, PhD student supervision, lectures on a number of ITS Masters Modules and supports the University in a strategic engagement role.

In his role at the DfT he provides a challenge function to the Department on the use of science and engineering evidence in policy making and also ensuring the Department is best informed on new innovations and technologies that may impact on the delivery of transport schemes.  Through the CSA network he also ensures that there is significant cross-government cooperation on science, engineering and technology issues.  The network of Chief Scientific Advisers (CSA’s) across Government Departments support and advise the Government Chief Scientific Adviser on all aspects of policy on science and technology. In particular, they:

  • provide advice to ministers, through the Cabinet committee system
  • discuss and facilitate implementation of policy on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • identify and share good practice in STEM-related areas, including the use of scientific advice in policy making
  • facilitate communication on particular high profile STEM-related issues and those posing new challenges for government
  • In addition as CSA for Department of Transport Phil ensures that all necessary science and technology evidence is assured as, and when, it is used to support and underpin policy decisions, where this evidence is not available rapid evidence reviews are undertaken. 
  • Moreover, Phil and his team are focusing on supporting key technical areas of the Department, including: connected and autonomous vehicles; ultra low emission vehicles; drones; spaceflight; older travellers and accessibility; emissions and air quality improvements; energy; and the IoT, big data and smart cities.  A number of these challenges were presented by Phil in a recent lecture to the Alan Turing Institute which is available on YouTube.

At Newcastle University Phil’s research portfolio covers a wide range of areas where ITS has been applied to transport including: His primary research is forward looking and attempts to bridge the technology-policy gap in terms of what technologies may evolve to meet future policy objectives or indeed influence future policy thinking, particularly in the smart city/smart transport domain.  Internationally, Phil manages a portfolio of research projects funded by the EPSRC, Europe, Industry and Government   He is a member of the ERTICO (ITS Europe) Supervisory Board and advises the Commission on ITS research strategy.  He chairs the IET’s Transport Policy Panel and the UK’s C-ITS Deployment Board and has acted as an advisor to the UK and European governments in various areas of intelligent transport and more recently also in the connected and autonomous vehicles, age-friendly and accessible transport, electromobility and smart cities agendas.

Academic background

Phil has devoted his academic career to the development of the research area of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) which is essentially the use of Information, communications and computing technology applied to transport. Phil established the first MSc level module in the UK in the field of ITS in 1997 and this has proved to be highly popular with the MSc and undergraduate students and CPD (Continuing Professional Development) delegates.

Over the years at Newcastle University, Phil’s research portfolio covers a wide range of areas where ITS has been applied to transport including: road to vehicle communications; road user charging and toll systems; ITS for assistive mobility, smartcards and RFID, wireless/smartdust technologies, electromobility and future intelligent infrastructure and is reflected in his research-led teaching in ITS and e-Services.  His primary research is forward looking and attempts to bridge the technology-policy gap in terms of what technologies may evolve to meet future policy objectives or indeed influence future policy thinking to meet the three main challenges currently facing transport, namely: congestion, climate change and future energy vectors.

Phil has been Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Investigator on more than 70 research projects with a total value to Newcastle of over £35m.  His current portfolio of projects include four EPSRC-funded projects (LC Transform, iBuild, CESI and UKCRIC), two EU funded projects (ITS Observatory and C-Mobile) as well projects funded from Government, Industry and local authorities (primarily in the C-ITS and Electromobility areas) 

In March 2012 Phil was awarded the Reece-Hills Medal for a lifetime personal contribution to ITS.

Phil holds a number of patents for ITS and ICT related inventions, publishes widely and provides knowledge outreach, consultancy and training courses in many aspects of ITS research.

Google Scholar: Click here.


Current Research

Phils research has covered many areas of ITS and transport technology and these subject areas have evolved over time. Phil’s current research broadly covers three areas:

Electromobility – Researching the performance and use of electric vehicles and understanding how driver behaviour and recharging behaviour occurs, largely through demonstrations and trials of the use of electric vehicles and data a collection and analysis to inform decision maker and Government on what is required to further support the roll-out of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEV).

Key Electromobility projects:

  • LC Transform: electromobility challenges to decarbonise cities in UK and China (EPSRC)
  • iBuild: Business cases for new infrastructure – we focused in electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure (EPSRC)
  • RCN: Developing the business case for Rapid Charging Networks by understanding how EV usage changes with the availability of a rapid charging infrastructure (TEN-T and Nissan, BMW, Renault and VW)
  • Smart CEM: Exploring how ICT and ITS can support the roll-out of electric vehicles and manage their charging needs in four European Cities (EU 7th Framework)
  • SwitchEV: One of the first and largest EV demonstration projects which studied the use of EV’s and charging infrastructure in North East England through analysis of trip data from vehicle data loggers (Innovate UK, Nissan and One NE)

Key Electromobility publications:

Other Electromobility Resources:


Connected and Autonomous vehicles – Researching how vehicle and infrastructure can communicate together to improve and optimise the management of road traffic; explore how automated vehicles could evolve and how they could help groups such as vulnerable and older drivers to continue driving safer for longer; and examine the longer term impact of connected and autonomous vehicles in terms of congestion, emissions, safety, public acceptance and comprehension and likely emergent use cases and their benefit to to society and the economy.  Much of the research in the interaction between the driver and the vehicle has been undertaken in the Newcastle DriveLAB.

Key Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Projects:

  • C-Mobile: Demonstrating Connected ITS systems and services at scale across Europe (EU H2020)
  • Gosforth Smart Corridor: Using C-ITS to manage express bus lanes, reduce emissions and protect vulnerable road users (Newcastle City Council/DfT)
  • Quantifying Driver Distraction: Investigating the impact of in-vehicle C-ITS on driver attention and distraction (Newcastle City Council/DfT)
  • Compass 4D: Coordinated deployment, evaluation and analysis of advanced cooperative systems deployments in eight European Cities (EU 7th Framework)
  • SiDE Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy: Explored how new technology and automation could help older drivers continue driving safer for longer (RCUK Digital Economy Hub)

Key Connected and Autonomous Vehicle publications:

Other Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Resources:

Smart Cities, Big Data and Internet of Things – Working with the Newcastle Urban Observatory and the Tyne and Wear Urban Traffic Control Centre to understand how we can efficiently collect data from fixed and mobile assets, use data science to analyse these many sets of data and determine practical uses of this data to run transport smarter and the city smarter to improve performance, reduce energy use and reduce carbon emissions.

Key Smart Cities, Big Data and IoT Projects

  • ITS Observatory:  Project bringing together data and pan-European ITS research deployments (EU H2020)
  • Save-ME: Project that used big data and IoT to deliver a smart evacuation system for underground transport facilities
  • iBuild: Project that investigates new and innovative business modes for infrastructure funding – Phils focus being on EV charging infrastructure (EPSRC)
  • CESI Centre of Energy Systems Integration: Whole system thinking for future energy infrastructure for smart cities (EPSRC)
  • MESSAGE Project: Pervasive wireless sensors for environmental monitoring (EPSRC/DfT)
  • Viajeo Plus: Sharing best practice in Urban Mobility Solutions (EU)

Key Smart Cities, Big Data and IoT Publications

Other Smart Cities, Big Data and IoT Resources


Background: Previous Research

Looking back, Phil is best known for his research in the area of road user charging. In the early 1990’s he led major European Consortia which developed the basic technologies for road user charging and tolling (PAMELA; ADEPT; and ADEPT II) which largely formed the basis for the European DSRC-standards.

Much of this research was funded under the EU’s DRIVE 1 and Drive 2 research programmes in ITS.  A summary of the DRIVE 1 projects can be found here and and similarly for Drive 2 here.  During this time Phil was appointed chairman of one of the seven Areas of the Programme, Area 1 Automated Debiting which led to international recognition.   For the first ITS World Congress in Paris in 1994, the Commission produced a video of the activities and vision of the seven areas of the research programme which is worth viewing just to gain a historical perspective on early ITS innovation.

In the ADEPT projects he led the team that developed the first solution for multi-lane tolling, the race to develop this solution is chronicled in the Channel 4 Equinox documentary ‘ For whom the roads toll’ available here (a shortened version which just covers the ADEPT activities is available here).  As part of this project he led the team that implemented the Cambridge Congestion charging trial in 1993-94 (Co-funded by EU, DfT and industry) and has been involved in most of the major road user charging research initiatives across Europe including the review of charging options for London (ROCOL) which delivered the feasibility study for the subsequent implementation of the London Congestion Charging Scheme in 1999/2000 which led to the implementation of the London Congestion Charging Scheme in 2003.  During the first decade of 2000’s Phil advised many Government on road pricing and in the area of electronic payment, including being a member of the cabinet offices office of the e-Envoys smart card policy working group and the development of the National Smart Card payment card for Transport, ITSO.

Phil’s research evolved into more general ITS and in particular wireless systems and technologies to support mobility impaired and older travellers.   Significant funding for this came from both EPSRC and from a series of EU projects under the third to seventh Framework research programmes.  This included research on smartcards for access to services (DISTINCT Project) which led to the University adoption of smart card systems for student cards, access cards and general campus cards – now even holding the Nexus Public Transport e-Payment App. Is available on current student smart cards.   The concept of assistive mobility services is captured well in a video from the EU ASK-IT project which included a major demonstration of the Technology across Newcastle in both the ASK-IT and Veritas projects.  Much of the later work on this was undertaken in the RCUK Digital Economy Hub project SiDE and a compilation of some of the TV News Media reports on the research over this project can be found here.

Since 2010 Phils’ Research has focused in the areas of electromobility, connected and autonomous transport and smartcities/big data as covered previously on this page.  However with both his University and DfT hats on he continues to advise and try and bring transport challenges and ensure a horizon scanning of new and emerging technologies and what they could potentially offer to together enable transport policy to be delivered better, more optimally and joined up.  Hence the smart city, big data agendas are fused with Automation, new business models, reduction and transport emissions and mobility as a service.  A Foresight project on the Future of Mobility which was launched earlier in 2017 to look the implications of this for future transport and future policy and to inform Government and other transport stakeholders.