The Cambridge SmartPanel has been developed by the University of Cambridge, in close collaboration with SmartCambridge and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, to help people make more informed travel choices in our region.

SmartPanel screenshot

A particular feature of the SmartPanel is that it, and the platform that supports it, are designed to operate effectively in real-time, i.e. even as you look at the panel, information from a variety of sources is continuing to flow in and you will see the SmartPanel update as you watch it. We have put in a significant amount of work to provide this capability for bus information - in the UK we have the ability to access the bus timetables from online sources and the continuous tracking of the actual buses is a regulatory requirement, but exploiting the possibilities these advances provide is, today, technically complex.

There are three main components to the SmartPanel system, your Display, your chosen Layout, and the Configuration Tool:

  1. You will choose an actual device to be your Display. This will (necessarily) be capable of displaying a web page, ideally at a screen resolution of 1920x1080 (i.e. that of a typical TV). A laptop is perfectly capable of being used as a display for quick access or testing purposes, but we have particularly designed the system to support large screens sited in the lobbies of public buildings and then you want a computer that not only displays the web page but can do that reliably for extended periods. A fixed network connection (i.e. ethernet) is preferable to WiFi, and SmartPanel will display on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or IE11 (but below that all bets are off).
  2. That display will access a unique web address, and display a SmartPanel Layout. It is this layout that defines what the display looks like, i.e. which combination of traffic, bus, weather or other information it contains and which bus stops, train stations etc it should display the information for. It is the Layout that contains all the smart code that communicates with our real-time platform to show the information that is does. We have had hand-crafted layouts showing the 'smartpanel' information for several months but the public use depends upon the configuration tool below...
  3. smartcambridge.org provides a SmartPanel Configuration System that allows you to create a Layout and then create a Display and assign that layout to the display. The system allows you to drag-and-drop panel elements (we call widgets) around the screen and re-size them on a 6x4 grid, and configure each widget to display what you want. I.e. you can have a traffic map taking up half of the layout, and three twitter feeds on the other half, or you can fill the screen with twelve train station widgets in a 6x2 layout, the choice is up to you. As you progress you can click a 'View' button and see how your layout looks. Note that to use the configuration tool you will need to register for an account on smartcambridge.org, which will be the same as your 'forum' account.