Keith Smith, Chief Engineer for the Chevron Group explains how innovative thinking, digital technology and industry collaboration has resulted in a new way of managing Mobile Carriageway Closures.
We have to change the way we think about roadworks if we want to change the way we do roadworks. If we still think of roadworks in the same way we did it in the 1990’s we will always struggle with safety, incursions and maintaining traffic flow on our network in the 21st century.
Traffic management is a strange beast in some ways. There are times when it feels like things never change or that change is slow and tortuous but then we look back and see how far we have come in the past 10 or 20 years, we realise that change does happen and when it does, it makes a real difference.
We have seen tremendous improvements in road user safety, road users are having better experiences at roadworks thanks to the implementation of correct engineering, we are supporting people with additional mobility needs, we are reducing our carbon footprint and we are delivering operational efficiencies and improvements.
These are all really important improvements but the challenge, of course, is to keep pushing, collaborating and striving for more.
The introduction of our Enhanced Mobile Carriageway Closure technique which has been accepted by National Highways is a great example of what can be achieved.
Essentially, the EMCC technique allows traffic management contractors to deploy an agile vehicle displaying an authorised sign to create a traffic-free environment for a short period of time. The van is equipped with an incursion warning system to alert workers of errant vehicles entering the work zone. The EMCC can be deployed during operations including the installation, maintenance, switching, or removal of traffic management systems. This includes supporting works operations that requires short periods of traffic-free time. Ultimately, it provides an alternative to the use of rolling roadblocks when delivering planned roadworks projects.
And it came about because we went back to basics and considered the engineering and changed our thinking on how and why we do things. We simply couldn’t go on making TTM operations more complex by considering elements of the process in isolation. We had all the elements we needed to enable us to do this. We just needed to rethink about how we could pull them together to deliver roadworks more efficiently with improved safety and customer experience.
The use of an MCC to create a traffic free environment has been available to providers since the publication of Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8 in 2006, but it required scarce and expensive resources which made the technique impractical and therefore it was never adopted.
We collaborated with HRS, who really are leading the way in delivering digital change to the industry and looked at their IIPAWS® (Intellicone® Incursion Prevention & Warning System). We were able to consider the MCC technique as well as the Convoy Control Vehicle technique which was approved in 2014, and enhance it with IIPAWS®.
In 2019, we began a series of self-funded, EMCC trials in conjunction with Costain. Our focus was to create short, traffic-free environments for work sites which were impacted by high traffic volumes, specific site features or works activities while improving safety standards, reducing disruption to customers and simultaneously minimising risks to road workers and road users with increased working windows to improve delivery.
The beauty of the EMCC is that it benefits everyone – contractors, TM providers and road users. It even benefits the environment.
For the TM provider, there is no lost time organising and waiting for a rolling roadblock which frees up those resources. EMCC gives direct control to the TM provider and contractor to start a rolling roadblock as soon as conditions allow or the requirement occurs. The trials have also shown that the EMCC can be safely activated at a higher traffic count which allows works to commence at a known time. Road workers are protected by the IIPAWS® incursion warning system.
For the contractor, this new technique gives them more control over their works schedule because we can provide a known and certain start time and give them a longer working window which will obviously take pressure of their timeframes and their workers and reduce the risks to those operations. It can also allow some works to move from night works to daytime works which has obvious benefits. To give you an example, we ran an EMCC for a client who needed to carry out crane works adjacent to an A road. These works were scheduled to be done at night but by deploying an EMCC, the client was able to reschedule them to daytime works and avoid closing the road over several nights, reducing cost and improving worker safety, in addition to eliminating environmental impact of diversions.
For the road user, we can eliminate the need for diversions which often take them onto unfamiliar side roads when they are possibly tired or have had a long day. This reduces stress levels and minimises the chance of getting lost or frustrated with the works. With the EMCC, drivers stay on the carriageway, follow the EMCC vehicle at a slower and controlled speed for a short period of time and then pick up their speed when the EMCC has ended, and the control vehicle has moved off the carriageway. Our trials established that with the EMCC system, the delay to road users is between 3 – 5 minutes which is significantly less than a diversion onto trunk route.
If we go back to our client on the A road, using this technique, they avoided having to divert over 10,000 road users through local roads during their crane operations. And of course, every eliminated diversion reduces miles travelled which will ultimately reduce carbon emissions on every shift, benefitting the environment.
The new EMCC trial project is an excellent example of how we delivered change by working collaboratively in an honest, open and enjoyably creative manner and underpinning everything with traffic engineering theory. Chevron TM worked with Costain to conceive and develop the concept and engaged with National Highways technical leads and specialists to refine and develop the test programme, reviewing, modifying and retesting this new way of working to improve safety, delivery and customer service for contractors, TM providers, road users and our planet. It also better utilises the finite resources available in responder organisations, providing another route to ensuring that everyone gets home safe and well.
About Keith Smith
Keith Smith is a professional engineer with a general highways engineering and construction background and is a leading practitioner and authority in temporary traffic management engineering and roadwork design, lecturing, researching and proactively supporting the Chevron Group and other industry organisations to implement improvements in their operational functions. Known for his collaborative and open and honest conversations, he has been at the forefront of developing learning and new techniques in the industry for nearly 30 years.
If we want our road infrastructure to be fit for the long term, we must keep pace with the key drivers affecting the highways industry, says Andy Theobald.
Providing our clients with long-term solutions means looking ahead, taking a 10 to 20-year time horizon to understand how to design and deliver projects that will serve society decades into the future.
It’s common to look at new technologies and processes that are making an impact now – artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example – and try to imagine a world where they are even more embedded in our solutions than today.
Technologies come and go, however, and the speed of innovation means many of the tools we’ll be using in the coming years have yet to make an impact currently. Instead, it’s more useful to look at the main drivers affecting demand to get a better sense of the long-term solutions we need to deliver:
Roads for levelling up
The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals are steering economic development, and good road infrastructure directly or indirectly supports all of them in some way. Highways link people to jobs, to markets to sell their goods, to educational opportunities and healthcare facilities. Roads can be a key investment to change people’s economic prospects and to support equality, as good connectivity can reduce time spent on menial tasks and widen access to jobs and opportunity.
The World Bank estimates that nearly 1bn people worldwide live more than 2km from an all-weather road. It also estimates that one in six women globally are not actively seeking work out of fear of harassment in transit. While road infrastructure in the UK is significantly more developed, there is still scope to improve the network to help spread prosperity. The focus should be on the factors driving the community’s need for the road. Improving neighbourhoods, addressing the needs of local communities, and enhancing the natural environment through nature-based solutions and regenerative design, will all help to maximise the long-term benefits.
The International Transport Forum’s 2021 transport outlook estimates that to 2050 there will be a 2.3-fold increase in demand for passenger transport and a 2.6-fold increase in demand for freight transport. In the UK, the Department for Transport predicts road traffic will increase by between 17% and 51% by 2050 (depending on the development trajectory taken). Digital systems and smart motorways will be crucial in helping us to use existing roads more efficiently. Where new road infrastructure is needed, this must be balanced with the need to drive down emissions. Roads which support and encourage active transport and electrified vehicles will be key to cutting emissions, while working with suppliers to enhance the materials used will help reduce embodied carbon.
Designing for safety
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.35M people are killed on the world’s roads each year. Road accidents are already the leading cause of death for people between the ages of five and 29, and by 2030, WHO predicts that more people will die as a result of road accidents than die of cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes or violence. Besides the tragic human cost, there is also an economic cost to countries – estimated as an average of 3% of GDP each year – which impacts the resources that can be put into social development.
We need to work with users, operators and vehicle manufacturers to design in safety, using technology where appropriate. Our efforts should include helping to promote a cultural change in attitudes to the remote control of vehicles on roads by convincing the public they can carry more traffic, more safely.
Alternatives to fossil fuels
We know electric vehicles are a crucial and growing element of our transport system to tackle emissions, and these need to be supported with the necessary charging infrastructure. Heavy trucks, though, challenge what is capable via current battery technology and charging times would impact logistics. Sweden and Germany have trialled electric road systems which power heavy trucks via overhead lines, rails or an induction loop. This is a technically feasible solution to electrifying heavy vehicles but the business case is still to be proven.
The probable long-term solution could be green hydrogen, either through combustion or fuel cells, which requires development of specialised infrastructure to support it. As for active transport modes, inner city commuters increasingly expect dedicated cycle lanes and greater separation between pedestrians and car users, with better, greener public spaces that support health and wellbeing.
Technology will change the way we use roads. Connected, driver-assisted and electric vehicles are delivering better informed and more comfortable journeys. As we look into the future, mobility as a service and other shared ownership models are likely to make road journeys more affordable and accessible for everyone. Data-driven operations and management solutions will boost the capacity of our network and lead to more efficient maintenance. A digital-first approach will help deliver enhanced journeys for all.
If we want to unlock the significant social benefits of point-to-point road journeys, the highways industry must continue to invest and keep up with technological advances to create a road transport network that is accessible, affordable and inclusive. While the outlook is uncertain, keeping mindful of these five key trends will help ensure highways infrastructure supports all parts of society for the long term and common good.
Andrew Theobald, group practice leader for highways, Mott MacDonald
Joanna White, Roads Development Director at National Highways, outlines the importance of collaboration and information sharing to successfully implement connected services.
Vehicles are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, designed to keep us safer and make our journeys more enjoyable. Over the next decade, technology will transform the way we travel and we may even start to see driverless cars on our network. It’s vital that the road network is ready for these changes.
Following the launch of National Highways’ Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) trials safety guidance, National Highways is working to ensure safety is at the forefront of all CAV trials on England’s motorways and A-roads.
It’s imperative that any trials that happen on our network put the safety of drivers and other road users first and foremost. While our role is not to mandate how those running CAV trials manage safety, we would encourage them to apply the framework of the safety risk management standard. We launched our new CAV safety trials guidance to assist in this.
Trials have already taken place
Between 2015 and 2020 we ran pioneering trials of connected and autonomous vehicles, working with industry, other transport authorities, local authorities and wider government.
These trials included the UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (UKCITE) project with University of Warwick; A2/M2 connected corridor that created a “wi-fi road” to connect vehicles and infrastructure wirelessly with Arup; HelmUK, which involved freight platooning; and HumanDrive, which involved a Nissan-led 368km autonomous drive.
For the UKCITE and A2/M2 trials, participants drove along sections of the network with overhead signs and as they did so, they could see the same information on the in-vehicle panel.
The trials tested the sort of information we can provide – like speed limits, journey time information and things like road works ahead – and how things like the speed travelled affects the information. Timing is a critical element, so ensuring that people are getting information that is current and relevant.
We also needed to test whether any extra communication technology is needed, or whether the mobile phone network would suffice. The trial concluded that we could indeed use the mobile network, and that information could be provided in a timely way. This has now led to a piece of work where taking the learning from these relatively small scale pilots, and looking at how we scale this approach across the whole of the network. And we’re looking at that from right across the spectrum of those who drive on the network – from lorry drivers, those who drive for business or socially.
For the HelmUK freight platooning trial we were looking at how information could be shared between a convoy of lorries. We wanted to understand what happened if you put a certain number of lorries close together. What benefits and efficiencies could be achieved? For example, could fuel savings be made, resulting in a real benefit from a logistics operational point of view?
The trial also looked at how the platooning vehicles interacted with other vehicles on the network and how that could happen in a safe manner. Tying back to the point about the safety case framework and applying a safety risk management approach. These trials have recently been completed so we’ll be able to announce outcomes and next steps soon.
Finally, the Nisson HumanDrive trial was about enabling a trial of an autonomous vehicle driving on real roads in a real-world environment. Looking at how we could support Nissan and the other members of the consortia to do that in a safe manner, so that they’re considering all the different elements of our road system.
The trial looked at aspects like how a vehicle travels through roadworks, how well its read white lines and other roadside “furniture” and how the vehicle knows where it needs to be on the network. This trial involved gathering data and then building a route that can be taken safely, as well as identifying risks.
These trials are all helping us to get ready for a future which includes autonomous vehicles, which is probably a couple of decades away but there are already some autonomous systems in use.
Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are becoming more common. These features can assist drivers in driving and parking functions and use automated technology, such as cameras and sensors, to detect surroundings or obstacles, but are not classed as autonomous as the driver is still needed to operate the vehicle.
One of the newest features in vehicles is the automated lane keeping system, which has been mandated on motorways to allow for speeds up to 60km/h. We’re working with the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles to ensure that safety is thoroughly considered.
The importance of collaborating with stakeholders
Collaborating with stakeholders from across the industry will be the key to success in ensuring standards are met. We need to stay in constant dialogue with vehicle manufacturers, those developing the technology and law makers because there are so many interdependencies. There’s a clear interaction between the vehicle and the road, and that requires us to look at how we develop our standards and look at our future road design and our information systems.
It’s the chicken or the egg situation, because you’ve got the manufacturers of vehicles or other technology developing things. And do we react to what they’re developing and then change our infrastructure and standards, or do we work with them together? Because even developing that, we develop our infrastructure at the same time or do we say this is our standard and this is what you need to develop in order to go on a work on our motorways.
It’s probably a blend of all these factors. Depending on the service, the circumstances and where it is, it can be quite relatively easy to change something. It might not be for us to change, it might be for the manufacturer or the service provider to change it. But we need to have those conversations and those relationships in place, otherwise the risk is that we invest money changing something and it’s completely unnecessary and vice versa.
We’re already focusing on the information provision side of things and our next task is looking at how that ends up in the vehicle.
We might push the data, for example on planned roadworks, out to a third party provider who then shares it. But then how do you make sure that it is used responsibly? It takes time to develop, because of the nature of what you’re trying to do.
Some of the location data just isn’t accurate for us to be confident that it would reach the vehicles with that information. The quality of the geospatial data is critical. We’ll need to develop standards and policies in this area.
With these standards and policies in place, customers will be able to get the information that they need quickly and efficiently, and it’ll be tailored to them specifically. They won’t just be getting a blanket set of information that they’ve got to sift through and find the bits that apply to them. Ultimately this should enhance the quality of their journey and their whole experience.
People should know a journey will take a certain amount of time, and should be told in a timely fashion about any delays or diversions that they would need to take and they took the diversion and it was correct.
Gaining trust will be critical; people need to know that the information they see coming into their vehicle saying, for example ‘obstruction ahead, move over’ is accurate.
Once we’ve gained that trust, we’ll be able to manage people’s expectations better, and of course there are huge safety benefits because we’ll be able to target people much more quickly, helping them to proactively manage situations.
The journey to achieving connected services
Number one to achieving success is collaboration. We are just one part of an end to end process to make this information available and useful. We’ll need to collaborate with external parties but also with those within our business too.
And then of course there is data quality; making sure any information we provide meets legislation and making sure it all joins up clearly. We might push out that information, but how it’s provided back into the vehicle needs to comply with the legislation and not be distracting.
Our relationship with the government is key here as well, so that we’re making sure that we’re in step with their plans and that we can provide that advice to them. How it might impact our operation of the network and for the future, a key question will be about our role as a network operator and what does that really mean and what does that look like?
Driver education and communication is going to be fundamental. We will need people to learn more about the features available in their vehicles, absorb the information provided and take the correct action.
The future road network is very exciting and it’s thrilling to be part of the preparations of what’s to come.
Joanna White, Roads development director with National Highways will join the panel discussion on ‘The roadmap to (CAM) connected and automated mobility take up’ on Day 1 – 2 November at 11.50am in the Technology and Innovation theatre.
Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder of Safe and the City explains how software and AI can help people feel safer when using the transport network
Most people think of Safe & the City as just an app, but that isn’t the full picture. There’s more behind our technologies, what drives our team and mission to change the world for the better. When you think of a better future, be it one year, 5-years or-10 years from now, does it feel safer? Of course, it does. It must be, otherwise, we wouldn’t say it’s an improvement from today. Safety is implied, a given. But this way of thinking is problematic. We can only create that type of future if we actively understand, learn and work towards that vision.
Safe & the City is led by our mission and vision for a better and safer future. We started with Safe & the City’s navigation app that reflects the areas of safety during travel that are mainly preventative and have been missed. Whether it is sexual harassment, misogyny or LGBTQ+ hate crimes, these gaps in knowledge we don’t collect insights on, measure and improve, won’t ever change.
“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
Our freedom of movement is predicated on our beliefs to feel and be safe in this country. For example, when we leave home to catch our bus to the tube station to work, we expect it will be safe. We know there has been a lot of thought, development, and learnings to reflect the current safety standards, such as how we created the rules of the road, vehicle manufacturing requirements, the bus drivers’ training, and installed CCTV to reduce crimes, to name a few. When departing from a tube station, we can appreciate the array of public safety considerations to move millions of people – the engineering of a train, the wider network operations, staff training and even a dedicated transport police force (BTP). While each of these physical components is different, all aspects need to work together in unison to get people safely to where they need to be.
But what about the software that helps us move through each of these transport systems, even when on our own two feet? That is a completely different story. Software technologies and apps move more people than any-one transport system. And at large have zero consideration of people’s safety, no regulations to set a higher bar and little market incentive to change. However, individuals are waking up that technologies need to do more. Consider how much we relied on technology to support us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Software technologies that helped keep our distance, know congestion periods on transport and anonymously get notified if we came into contact with an infected person. We have limitless opportunities if we can leverage technology to innovate around problems, set higher expectations of user privacy, and physical and psychological safety and strive toward making the overall experience positive. Not to exploit people, but to lift, better understand and learn how mobility products can make every journey better for everyone.
Safe & the City’s i3 Intelligence AI provide ‘just in time information’ to contextualise what’s ahead, giving people moving through the risks of the real world, the advantage of the time to respond and seek help when necessary. We all need safety, no matter who we are and where we want to go.
Times are changing fast. We’re accelerating into new challenges of the 2020s- the cost of living crisis, economic downturns, civil unrest, strikes and protests, crimes and fear. We can watch as the existing systems to move people fail without meeting the realities of the digital age, or embrace technology as one of uniting forces, that helps move us into a new way of thinking, designing and putting people’s right to be safe first.
This is the future we’re building. Starting with Safe & the City navigation app, evolving into i3 Intelligence AI and working with partners to think differently and have safety be a part of their competitive edge now and in the future.
Software technologies can help save lives, shape a better tomorrow and unlock endless possibilities when people’s right to move safely is top of mind. We look forward to being a part of the journey at Highways UK conference for those that see that future too.
Dr Dimitrios Kaltakis, 5G and connectivity lead at WSP, outlines how network operators, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators must work together to achieve Vision Zero.
As digital connectivity becomes increasingly vital – not just for the smooth but for the safe operation of transport networks – access to 5G can benefit a huge range of stakeholders and end users.
Today transport is more than just travel – it connects people to each other, to jobs, to vital services and it’s essential for the logistics we all depend on every day. All this relies not just on physical assets such as roads, bridges, and train tracks, but on data and digital connectivity.
The role of data in improving transport is well established. For example, on the roads, monitoring the highways network using cameras helps operators respond quickly to incidents, provide information, and keep traffic flowing. On the railways, CCTV helps keep passengers safe, while smart card readers at station barriers make ticketing seamless. All these systems and others work by getting data from A to B, and that requires a whole ecosystem of connectivity which includes 5G networks.
On-site safety and efficiency
5G networks can enable Vision Zero and pave the way for increased efficiencies and optimised construction times. Imagine having ubiquitous access to complex 3D models on-site or being able to stream a live feed of as-built information directly into BIM systems. A 5G network can enable this, increasing collaboration, reducing time spent on site and driving efficiencies.
An advanced 5G network can improve site safety too through the use of real-time video analytics and highly accurate asset and personnel tracking – raising the alarm if someone is in a dangerous situation. The ultra-low latency of 5G also makes it possible to operate machinery remotely, paving the way for site automation.
Once construction is finished, all or part of the 5G network could be used during the operational phase. This is where the neutral-host network model comes in. The UK is leading the way in adopting this approach, which involves a third-party wholesale carrier setting up infrastructure and selling access to mobile operators and other partners. With 5G connectivity in place, people get internet access, new data-driven use cases open-up, and transport operators can generate a revenue stream which would enable them to reinvest into improving the quality and safety of the network.
Ultra-fast data processing/Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM)
To deliver the 5G benefits at scale, operators need to deploy Mobile Edge solutions which bring the end-user closer to the mobile core, thus realising ultra-low latency, ultra-fast data processing and hence the full potential of 5G.
Private networks, either 4G or 5G, can achieve this but with 5G, network slicing will make it even easier to prioritise certain users or uses, with operators able to assign guaranteed slices of the network. Even if a network goes down for everyone else, emergency services – for example, would still be able to use it. This provides economies of scale and opens up even more safety-critical use cases.
Cellular Vehicle to everything services (C-V2X) could for example be one network “slice” enabling:
Emergency hazard warning between autonomous and connected vehicles,
Improved adaptive and emergency breaking
Rapid download of HD mapping data
Realisation of Vehicle to Pedestrian safety services
Improved vehicle to infrastructure service performance for connected, semi and fully autonomous vehicles
Network of networks
Realising these benefits while at the same time meeting people’s need to be always connected, to have constant access to fast internet for work, information, and entertainment not only at home and but also on the move requires connectivity everywhere – even at hard-to-reach areas. Indeed, the UK Government aspires to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and is aiming for most of the population to have 5G coverage by 2030.
The advent of 5G is certainly an opportunity to connect both people and the systems on which our transport networks rely, wherever they are. But while there are no insurmountable technical barriers to doing so, making the most of the opportunity will require a new mindset.
Instead of relying solely on the traditional mobile network operators to bring coverage to an area, network operators/service providers, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators need to work together.
Ubiquitous connectivity enabled by 5G is the real changemaker here. For example, one can have low earth orbit (LEO) satellites complementing terrestrial public or private 5G networks providing secure and resilient PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) for advanced CAM services, such as collision avoidance, that require ultra-precise timing and location of vehicles.
A network of networks that allows anyone to be connected anywhere with a quality of service that meets their needs is the future. The first steps to realising this future have already begun with the rollout of 5G-SA core networks, trials involving the use of satellite 5G-technology and the acceleration of the delivery of nationwide gigabit-capable connectivity.
Andy Fish, technical specialist for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division, looks at how to encourage innovation in a regulated market.
As someone who has sat on many standard setting committees and industry bodies, across several industries, I have often pondered why things are the way they are.
Standards play an important role in many industries; and in a market that is primarily focused on safety, they are critical. As such, standards set out to do many things, including providing a common description of product types, set minimum levels of performance, describe classes of useful performance, identify testing methods, and provide tools for the certification of products.
All the above are intended to ensure that the supplied product is suitable for purpose and enable the purchaser to make an informed decision based on a true comparison.
However, like all things, there are negative aspects to standards. While some of these are easily solved, others are not so straightforward.
Arguably the most challenging aspect is time. Standards take a long time to come to fruition, they are often many years in the making – and even small amendments can take an extraordinary length of time to be published. Meanwhile, many product manufacturers are improving their designs and finding new ways to improve performance with technology that did not exist when the underlying standard was first drafted. This lag ultimately means that the end user does not benefit for years, sometimes decades.
Sometimes standards are worded in such a way that they actively exclude new innovations by calling out a specific technology rather than a performance characteristic. As an example, the current standard for permanent traffic signs contains tables for the performance of retroreflective sheeting, one of which specifically refers to materials constructed with glass beaded reflectors. Specifying a technology in this way prevents new technologies being used. After all it should not matter how the material is constructed the end user probably does not care if it is made with glass beads or fairy dust. What matters is how it performs. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?
These things happen because people tend to think about what they know, the current state-of-the-art solution. To paraphrase Henry Ford, if you asked people what they wanted 100 or so years ago they would not have said “a car” they would have said “a faster horse that eats less hay” as this is what they knew at the time. The underlying need was to get from A to B, cheaply and quickly.
When authoring standards, we need to be focused on the purpose of the product and, most importantly, what that means to the end user, NOT what is currently possible with today’s technology, and NOT what the majority of manufacturers can make.
Of course, there are ways to accelerate the implementation of new technologies by conducting trials and creating test beds, for example, but this requires more cooperation from all parties.
Manufacturers need to clearly identify the benefits of their nascent technology and purchasers need to be clear on their needs alongside being more open to try something different that might just be more effective.
While we cannot predict the future, we can do much more to ensure that the consumer gets the best possible product by focusing on what the customer needs, not the industry’s current capability.
Ben Rawding from JCB stresses the importance of new technologies to tackle the labour shortages and attract new talent to the sector.
Today the highways teams within British local authorities face a number of challenges, and as an industry we must do more to support them. The work of a highways operative can often be physically challenging, dangerous and unappreciated. Consequently, we are facing a labour shortage, with a concerning trend towards an aging workforce. An unnamed authority has recently conducted a review to assess exact this – with resulting showing an average age of over 50 years for their highways operatives and a troubling level of absence.
If we hope to tackle the unprecedent backlog faced by our highways teams then we must provide them with the necessary tools to mechanise their repair processes and attract new youthful labour into the many open vacancies. The so called ‘PlayStation generation’ will simply not accept roles if they are expected to risk their personal health, through unnecessary manual handling or risk Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. This cannot be understated as exposure to hand arm vibration (HAV) can lead to a combination of neurological (nerve), vascular (circulation) and musculoskeletal symptoms, collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The Health and Safety Executive have identified HAVS as one of the basic health and safety mistakes crippling British industry. This avoidable risk is something we must eliminate; plastering over the issue with vibration monitoring wrist watches is simply not the answer.
British manufacturers such as JCB have recognised this significant issue and feel the burden of being one of the true engineering giants left in this nation. As a result, the PotholePro was born – an innovation driven by JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford. He tasked the finest engineers within the business to address this ever-growing issue. Since launch in 2021, the PotholePro has been supporting local authorities across the UK by mechanising their repair process, eliminating all HAVS risk and attracting a new generation of talent into the highways industry. Operatives have gone from using jack hammers / circular saws to instead repairing the defects from a zero vibration cabin – the heated air suspension seat has also helped!
It must not be forgotten that HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. A similar story can be said with unnecessary operatives placed unprotected in a live carriageway. If the preparation of the defect can be completely by a machine, without the operator having to leave the comfort of their cab – then this significantly reduces the risks involved. This is not a move to remove the requirement for labour, but instead diversify the tasks and methodology. The individuals who would previously be working on defect preparation, now focus on reinstatement – attempting to keep pace with the machine leading the process line.
As a result, local authorities have reported that operative job satisfaction has improved as they no longer have to carry cumbersome jack hammers, lift large pieces of spoil surface into their truck. Both of these processes, along with the planning, is undertaken with a single machine. To aid this, they have upskilled their operatives to drive the PotholePro, supported by free of charge training from JCB that includes the full CPCS qualification. The remaining operatives focus on reinstatement – to which they have commented is the “satisfying” element.
Whether it is a PotholePro or alternative machinery, it is essential that we mechanise the highways repair processes, providing an up-skilled labour force with the necessary tools to fix more defects in a safer, economical, and permanent manner. Analysis from authorities such as Stoke-on-Trent City Council has demonstrated that mechanisation can transform the whole highways department. They have repaired over 7-years’ worth of defects in just 12 months. Not only have they repaired significantly more defects, but they have drastically lowered their cost per defect as a result. The workforce is more motivated as the machine has ‘picked up the slack’. In fact, one of their operatives has been using jack hammers for 30 years but has been converted to using the PotholePro. Furthermore, the new work methods have changed the perception of the team and as a result, they are able to attract a younger generation of operatives into their department.
Brooke Wood from dDB Communications emphasises the need for investment in wireless communications to improve roadworker safety.
Every day and night, over 3,000 highways engineers work across the UK’s 670-mile network of motorways and A-roads to keep our roads safe and moving.
However, they are faced with multiple hazards that cause around 20 serious injuries every year (according to DfT figures), and many more moderate injuries.
According to the latest statistics from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) 2019/2020 figures, the number of injuries in construction (including highways engineering) is increasing. Construction is now the third most dangerous industry in the UK, with fatal injury being four times higher compared to all other industries.
Almost half of the fatal injuries to workers over the last five years were accounted for by just two different accident types – falls from a height and being struck by a moving vehicle (both big risks in highways engineering).
The unique challenge in roadworks safety
Although much is being done to improve site safety, highways construction remains immensely challenging. There’s all manner of heavy machinery and equipment in constant motion, often in restrictive areas. If you add in pedestrian traffic and night working, highways engineering and maintenance presents with some unique challenges.
The risk for non-authorised or planned vehicles entering the work site and injuring workers is far greater than in any other industry. In fact, National Highways reported that there were almost 6,500 incidents of vehicle incursions on roadworks sites between October 2017 and October 2020 – 175 per month.
Looking at the total number of road maintenance workers killed or seriously injured whilst at work on the road network, in Great Britain (since 2010), there’s been a steady year-on-year increase according to the DfT figures. In a Freedom of Information request made on 10 March 2020, the DfT confirmed that between 2010 and 2018, there had been 10 roadworkers fatally injured and 76 seriously injured.
Beyond improving pedestrian driver awareness, roadworker safety, and onsite guidance, what more can be done?
Learning from railway engineering
Improvements to highways worker safety could be made by replicating similar wireless communications solutions seen in railway engineering.
In 2011, Network Rail mandated that all rail construction workers use duplex wireless systems to improve communications and worker safety.
If you are wondering what duplex wireless systems are, the best way to explain their use is by comparing them to back-to-back radios.
Back-to-back radios, while fantastic pieces of equipment, have limited use in high-traffic, high noise environments since only one person can talk at a time and everyone is forced to listen. If an incident were to occur away from the person talking, until they stopped transmitting, no one else can be advised of a potential hazard or threat. Duplex communications resolve this problem by allowing multiple users to talk and listen at the same time.
Some duplex systems, allow up to 16 users to communicate at the same time with headsets that are adapted for each roadworker’s task. For example, one engineer may require maximum situational awareness where their colleague may require hearing protection with closed ear domes.
Offering an uninterrupted wireless range of up to 100 metres for two-users and 500 metres for three or more users, duplex wireless systems are ideal for:
Improving efficiency between trades (to get the job done quicker)
Managing onsite traffic
As with railway engineering, highways engineers have the additional issue of transmission blind spots. This could be due to any number of things. It could be a tunnel, a corner or a long distance. Duplex wireless systems can offer a solution as they can be adapted to meet these challenges.
Likewise, back-to-back radios, which integrate with duplex wireless systems, can be extended by using the mobile phone architecture, with ranges of up to 30 miles.
Controlling unauthorised vehicles
Using wireless radio frequency (RF) technology, worksite entrance points can also be monitored, with workers instantly alerted to any intrusion, whether a vehicle or a person. If an intrusion occurs, an alarm sounds within the roadworker’s headset and enables them to respond in line with site guidance.
Where do you start with improving onsite communications?
There are hundreds of applications for wireless communications in highways engineering. The best piece of advice though, is to speak directly with the manufacturer who should explore your communication challenge before recommending the most practical solution.
Steve Perkins, Managing Director at Steve Perkins Associates, unpacks the big picture of workplace health and argues the ‘system’ for protecting worker health is flawed, particularly in the world of construction.
“What gets measured gets managed”
So said Peter Drucker, the well-known management thinker. And it’s generally true. Unfortunately when it comes to protecting the physical health of our workers from exposures that cause disease and death, we tend to count the corpses rather than focus on controlling the exposures that produce them.
And even then, that counting only goes on at national level in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual statistics. Did you know that the construction sector in Great Britain is responsible for 3,500 occupational cancer deaths, plus 5,500 new cases of occupational cancer each year? And at any one time there are some 81,000 construction workers with work-related ill-health . When you think that the Highways sector accounts for about 30% of all construction activity that’s potentially a lot of occupational cancer caused by highways work.
So what are we measuring when it comes to health protection?
Or maybe a more pertinent question is how do our current health, safety and wellbeing metrics impact on health protection?
Well, numbers of mental health first aiders or champions is certainly important, but wellbeing-related measures like that won’t have any impact on reducing the physical, chemical or biological workplace exposures that cause the occupational diseases we’re discussing. To put it bluntly, no amount of mindfulness will stop you get silicosis or noise induced hearing loss! (We’ll come to how wellbeing, occupational health and occupational hygiene work in relation to one another in a moment.)
And then there’s LTI, LTA, AFR… (otherwise known as ‘Looking Good Indices’.) All of which focus on accidents, not ill-health. It could be argued that even in terms of preventing accidents these metrics are not a lot of help due to their lagging nature. They don’t reveal anything about what is being done now to reduce workplace risk and so decrease the likelihood of future accidents. But I digress; that’s a different article.
Well surely then, RIDDOR is the answer when it comes to health metrics and we all count RIDDOR reportable diseases. Unfortunately RIDDOR is to health protection what AFR’s are to accident prevention – seriously lagging! The key thing about the most serious occupational diseases is that they are ‘long latency’ i.e. it can take years if not decades for many of them to develop. So, by the time the disease manifests, the damage is done and, because there are no cures for these diseases, it’s too late to stop them progressing.
The BIG picture of workplace health
I mentioned earlier that we’d look at how wellbeing, occupational health and occupational hygiene work in relation to one another. There are 3 broad, but overlapping dimensions to workplace health.
The classic understanding of health at work comes under the banner of Occupational Health. This is the clinical arena that’s all about managing the health of workers as it is today. It covers the work of doctors and nurses on things like fitness for work, medicals and health surveillance.
Wellbeing is the second dimension of health at work. This is primarily about encouraging individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices and has benefits for both employees and employers.
The third dimension of health at work is Occupational Hygiene. This is all about protecting people from workplace health risks. These are the entirely preventable risks the workplace itself creates, which are regulated by the HASAWA 1974. Preventing ill-health is all about controlling exposures; it’s not about clinical treatment or health promotion. It’s about protection. Occupational Hygienists are highly qualified applied scientists who deal with the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of workplace health risks. Theirs is a cross-cutting discipline encompassing aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, ergonomics, toxicology and engineering.
Is health, safety and wellbeing really protecting our worker’s health?
Let’s return to our original question. Someone once said, “the system you have is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting”. If the HSE’s statistics are anything to go by the ‘system’ for protecting worker health is pretty dysfunctional, particularly in our world of construction.
Unfortunately these levels of serious occupational disease and death reported by HSE have been going on for decades and they’re generally not reducing. It seems to me that it’s hard to conclude anything other than the answer to our original questions is a resounding ‘NO’. By any outcome measure, at an industry level, health, safety and wellbeing is not really protecting our worker’s health.
Good practice in highways worker health protection
That’s that not to say there aren’t pockets of good practice, and at the Highways UK show in November I’ll be unpacking some great examples from Connect Plus’s award-winning Healthier Highways initiative on the M25. You may be wondering by now what should we be measuring if we want to really protect our worker’s health? Remember – it’s all about reducing exposures. Come along in November to find out more!
Delivering Vision Zero will be challenging and resource intensive. The timeframe for delivery also requires focus on what matters most in reducing the number and severity of casualties says Jeremy Phillips, leader of CEDR’s Working Group on Road Safety
The ambition to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries (KSI) on our road networks, often to zero and within relatively short timeframes, is shared amongst several countries and individual road administrations across Europe.
In England, National Highways’ own ambition, for example, is to achieve Vision Zero (in which no one dies or is seriously injured as a consequence of working or travelling on its network) by 2040.
Safe travel is, in general terms, achieved when safe people travel in safe vehicles on safe roads. While national road administrations have direct control over just one of those factors – safe roads – they can exert a wider influence over factors that are linked to collision and casualty reduction. Supporting road users in achieving safe and compliant behaviours, and motivating vehicle manufacturers to design for greater safety are examples of the wider influence exerted by road administrations.
Safe roads remain, however, the area in which the greatest influence may be exerted. It is in this context that CEDR’s Working Group on Road Safety has considered the main challenges that will be faced by roads directors over the next five to ten years. They have outlined the challenges in a position paper which will be discussed at the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR), which is taking place as part of this year’s Highways UK.
The challenges outlined include ensuring a strong link between road safety ambitions and the sustainability agenda. And acknowledging and exploiting areas of common purpose, such as managed speeds for injury reduction, collision avoidance and pollution control.
The paper also acknowledges the importance of delivering safety across the entire road network. There are clear benefits derived from enhancing the safety of routes that carry the highest flows of traffic. But a vision for zero KSI requires that all roads need to deliver the same level of performance, and consequently require proportionate levels of investment. The pathway to achieving this will be one of prioritisation. This presents a further challenge to roads administrators to share data and intelligence, to help ensure that we collectively achieve the greatest good for the greatest number in the shortest possible time.
Similarly, the paper recognises that a zero KSI ambition requires that enhanced safety is provided for all categories of road user. This is a challenge that becomes more demanding as the types of roads for which an administration is responsible becomes wider. Physical infrastructure to segregate modes, especially those most vulnerable to injury, and to protect those working on the highway will be an important contributor. But it will also be a challenge where road space is limited.
New technologies, including digitisation, are likely to make a significant contribution to casualty reduction. Roads authorities have a role to play in supporting technological advancement, especially in providing the data that will enable more digitised vehicles to operate efficiently. There will also be challenges in managing the transition period between now, and a future in which connected and autonomous vehicles are dominant.
Delivering Vision Zero will not be easy and it will require considerable resource to achieve. The relatively short time period over which this needs to be done also means that road administrations will need to focus on the measures that matter most, and which are most likely to ensure fewer casualties. The Working Group for Road Safety’s paper will help to provide that focus, whilst accepting that decisions about priorities will be greatly influenced by the challenges faced by each road administration in their own jurisdiction.
Jeremy Phillips is the Leader of the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR) Working Group on Road Safety. He is also Head of Road User Safety at National Highways. His presentation: The Main Road Safety Challenges for European Roads Directors for the next five to ten years – towards Vision Zero, will be held in the National Highways theatre at 9.45 – 10.00 on Thursday 4 November at Highways UK.
We need to see a cultural change towards approaches to carbon, says John Dixon, Jacobs’ Vice President and Highways Market Director, and we should take inspiration from the transformationl improvements in safety achieved within the sector over the last 20 years
Over the last 20 years we can take pride in the transformational improvements made in health, safety and wellbeing in the highways sector. Key to this has been the significant investments in cultural safety programmes. This has driven a mindset change throughout the value chain, with so many more people now choosing to do the right thing and lead the way on safety, regardless of their level of experience or seniority. These were ‘no regrets’ investments that in many cases have yielded delivery and bottom-line business benefits, as well as improved safety performance.
Just like safety, carbon reduction now demands the full and absolute focus of the industry over the next thirty years, but critically over the rest of this decade. There is so much we can do together to reduce carbon emissions in highway infrastructure solutions, and we have the talent to do it.
If we look at how safety has now become embedded into organisations’ business strategies and operations, we can take inspiration to do the same with carbon. Many of you will be familiar with having a ‘safety moment’ at the start of each meeting. This is one relatively small feature of a typical safety programme that places health, safety and wellbeing management at its heart. Perhaps the next time you’re holding a meeting you could think about also having a ‘carbon moment,’ and help place carbon reduction at the centre of your organisation?
In addition to safety moments other features of the safety culture change architecture include leadership commitment training, all staff orientation training, staff-led action groups, observation records/’don’t walk bys’ and stand downs, amongst others. Drawing on this existing architecture we can make a running start to embed carbon management in our organisations, crucial to driving environmental, social and economic growth within our sector.
There are some challenges to this, with few organisations implementing transformational change in the same way. This has been the case with safety management. Imagine how much faster it might have been if everyone adopted the same approach, whether that be highway authorities/clients or suppliers, especially when the goal of zero accidents or harm has been so universally sought by the sector.
Adoption of a common standard to frame our investment and transformation therefore makes perfect sense for carbon, as net zero is the goal we are all striving for. PAS 2080 ‘Carbon Management in Infrastructure’ is increasingly being adopted and promoted in the highways sector. It provides a systematic way for managing whole life carbon in infrastructure delivery that the industry could use to accelerate improvement. This is a flexible standard that can be applied to different project types, sizes and stages. If we use it as a means to facilitate consistency and collaboration at pace we stand a better chance of making a difference on time!
The sooner we see a cultural change towards approaches to carbon, the sooner we can meet our net zero targets, and ensure better business performance, reduced costs, increased competitiveness and innovation. We need to build on what we’ve achieved so far, and make sure our highways are fit for a truly sustainable world.
John Dixon is speaking at Highways UK in the Main Theatre panel Getting serious: climate action towards net zero which takes place at 10.40 on 3 November. Other panelists include Rachel Skinner, Ben Harris, Jamie Bardot and Elliot Shaw.
Fiona O’Donnell, Jacob’s Head of Health, Safety and Environemnt (HSE) outlines her organisation’s efforts to break down the barriers that hinder honest conversations about mental health and encourage an open culture of support around the globe
How would you feel if you had a tool that allowed you to check your mental health regularly to spot early warning signs, avoid prolonged suffering and treatment and increase your mental resilience? That’s what our One Million Lives campaign is all about, and I’m proud to be its champion…
At Jacobs we’ve been supporting the mental health of our colleagues for a long time by hosting a mental health resilience programme, dealing with topics such as navigating the challenges of lockdown, how to build resilience and coping with grief.
However, insights from the programme, combined with feedback received from mental health champions, employee surveys and conversations with mental health experts all highlighted the need for more proactive and preventative solutions. And that’s where we decided to develop ‘One Million Lives.’
Launched in December 2020 One Million Lives is a complimentary campaign accessible to everyone, no matter where you live, or who you work for. It’s as relevant to people working in the Highways sector as to any other area of activity. Many people don’t have access to corporate resources or Employee Assistance Programs, so we wanted to develop a tool that detects early signs of mental distress and offers proactive strategies, such as sleep, exercise, and social media behaviours.
Our goal? To break down the barriers that hinder honest conversations about mental health and encourage an open culture of support around the globe.
To complement the app we developed a website with additional resources to help you to engage with the One Million Lives campaign and help you with your mental health growth. By inviting people to routinely check-in to see how they are doing and encourage their own networks to do the same, we hope more people will become aware of their state of mental health.
While still in its infancy, the data collected to date (14,000 check-ins) has already helped us at Jacobs to gain insights into the mental wellbeing of our employees, and allowed us to make informed, data-driven decisions in response.
We, and many other organisations believe that this campaign has the potential to transform our collective approach to mental health. But ultimately One Million Lives is more than just about an app or a website. It’s about encouraging everyone to have open and honest conversations.
To learn more about One Million Lives make sure you look out for Fiona’s session at Highways UK running on the Big Thinking Stage at 2pm on 4 November. Highways UK is free to attend, book your place now
Steve Birdsall, CEO of Gaist, provider of roadscape insight and intelligence services, explains the very real possibility of a revolution in road safety
In the past decade, the role of data within the built environment has changed dramatically. An explosion in the information available to infrastructure asset owners and operators, the emergence of technologies and digital processes such as BIM and digital twins and advances in analytics, have transformed how we understand the world around us.
For those managing and interacting with our roads, this data revolution is starting to unlock benefits including optimising network performance, driving efficiencies and – critically – improving safety.
The richer the level of information and insights available to roads decision-makers, the greater the depth of analysis, the better informed they are and the better positioned they are to respond to defects and challenges on the network.
This data is not just becoming available to the decision maker. Road users will soon be able to access real-time information about the condition of roads.
Advancing road safety Today, a new development is set to further deepen our understanding of the network and facilitate a huge step forward in road safety.
Data captured from sensors within regular passenger vehicles can now be used to provide on-the-ground ‘live’ detail about road friction, road roughness, temperature, and surface defects.
As an example of how this data could be used, the implications for the winter-market particularly are huge. Decision making by Winter Duty Managers over when and how to treat the network has traditionally been based on Road Weather Information Systems, which though time tested, have well documented limitations.
But armed with this next-level of dynamic data – combined with other reliable data sources such as radar and satellite images – those responsible for managing our roads networks and keeping them open and safe during the winter period will be far better informed and empowered to predict and plan their interventions.
Take gritting routes. With this rich data, our knowledgeable and experienced winter service managers will have at their disposal far greater detail of how gritting routes are responding to treatment and how drivers are experiencing travelling on those gritted routes.
Fed into a winter service strategy and used to combine with and complement other winter specific features, this information can be deployed not just in one season but to drive continual improvement for future years.
This will provide evidence to quickly respond to key questions such as what parts of the network should we treat? when should we treat them? and what treatments should be carried out?
So how does it work? The real time datasets consist of a combination of tyre-road friction readings, ambient temperature and windscreen wiper speeds from passenger vehicles traversing the road network. This is then used to create a set of map layers to give winter maintenance professionals access to a level of detailed information with which to inform their decisions.
The readings are all mapped using GPS and timestamped and are never the result of data from one vehicle – there is an established minimum threshold of vehicles from which data is drawn.
The real-time dynamic datasets will be accessible for the first time to local authorities and networks from Safecote, a Gaist partner, through its BM Roads System.
Advancing our mission At Gaist, we have always been laser-focused on our mission to provide the deepest and richest possible intelligence about our roads to support critical areas including the safety of the network. With this latest development, we are proud to continue to honour that commitment.
Steve Birdsall will further explore how vehicle sensor technology is transforming asset managers’ approach to road safety at Highways UK, which is running at the NEC on 3/4 November. Other contributors to the session include Björn Zachrisson from Nira Dynamics in Sweden and Paul Boss, Chief Executive of Road Surface Treatments Association. For more information on Highways UK, including how to book your free exhibition and conference pass, go to https://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/highways-uk/index.stm
Covid-19 has thrown the issue of workplace health into the spotlight. But in the highways sector, which has a heady cocktail of exposure hazards from manual handling to bitumen fumes, the control of workplace health risks has long been the Cinderella to accident prevention. Steve Perkins explains why we must focus much more on the health risks and points to pioneering work with Connect Plus and Highways England
The Health and Safety Executive estimates that annually 13,000 workers die from work-related (non-COVID) disease across all sectors in Great Britain. The total figure for accident fatalities is around 110-150 each year. So 99% health and 1% safety.
Of that total, construction alone accounts for 3,500 occupational cancer deaths, plus 5,500 new cases of occupational cancer each year. At any one time there are some 81,000 construction workers with work-related ill-health.
Highways accounts for a significant proportion of construction and has the usual cocktail of exposure hazards such as dust, noise, vibration, diesel exhaust, solvent and welding fumes, manual handling and solar radiation. And added to that of course, large amounts of bitumen fume.
According the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, an epidemic refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of an infectious disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area. And a pandemic refers an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.
A key difference with work-related diseases is that generally they’re non-communicable i.e. you develop them through exposure to hazardous substances/processes and they’re not transmissible person-to-person. Strictly speaking epidemic and pandemic relate to infectious diseases. But, indulge me for a moment and assume we can apply them to non-communicable diseases as well.
Another difference is that work-related diseases generally have no cure. There’s no vaccine for silicosis or noise induced hearing loss.
The global picture for work-related fatalities is a little different to the UK with an estimated 2.3M disease deaths each year and 0.3M accident deaths (87% health and 13% safety). Although if we looked only at industrialised countries it would be similar proportions to the UK.
By any measure of scale this is a pandemic.
Firstly, unlike COVD, work-related diseases develop slowly, usually over a number of years and sometimes over a number of decades. This means that workers suffering these conditions retire early and die at home or in hospital or care homes. They are no longer ‘on the books’ of the employer who exposed them. That’s rather less visible than a workplace accident fatality isn’t it?
In fact HSE estimates that of the £16.2Bn cost of all work related injury and ill health, 66% is due to ill-health (and that only covers new cases of disease each year, not the burden due to past-exposure). Of that £16.2Bn employers pick up about 20%, government pays about 22% and individuals and families account for the remaining 56%. Not quite ‘risk-creator pays’ is it?
Secondly, workplace health hazards often go unrecognised and/or unobserved. Most people would probably recognise the risk of a fall from height quite easily, but do they appreciate the serious risks to lung health of dusts, fumes, fibres and vapours? We’ve found that in construction there is certainly an awareness and understanding gap to bridge when it comes to health hazards.
Steve Perkins MA CDir FIoD FInstP AFOH is managing director of Steve Perkins Associates Limited
Highways UK Conference Panel
For this year’s Highways UK at the NEC on 3/4 November, we’ve assembled a high level panel of industry leaders and thinkers to discuss the issues raised by the ‘Hidden Pandemic’ in the context of highways and how we might begin to tackle the risks. Steve will be chairing the panel and highlighting some of the innovative work on health protection undertaken on the M25 in partnership with Connect Plus and Highways England. He will be joined by:
Andy Dean, Chief Executive, Connect Plus M25
Nicola Bell, Regional Director South East, Highways England
Dylan Roberts, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Director, Skanska
Alison Margary, President, BOHS – The Chartered society for Worker Health Protection
Author: Mark Cracknell – Head of Technology, Zenzic
What is the roadmap?
Roadmaps provide a blueprint of the future. They offer an idea of what the future will hold, creating valuable insight into what different capabilities are on the horizon, and indeed when they will become available to address future challenges. That is exactly what the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 delivers, by pinpointing over 500 milestones required to get self-driving vehicles on Britain’s roads at scale by 2030.
Launched on Tuesday this week, the roadmap is truly unique. It not only outlines outputs or Milestones, but additionally the interdependencies between them. Ensuring this roadmap’s predictions for the impending future are realistic means it has been critical to consider the implications across society. That includes people, infrastructure, vehicles and, of course, the services from which society draws its countless benefits.
Featuring over 250 contributors from 150 organisations
Each organisation working in this space has been defining their own objectives and path to the future. This is entirely understandable. But what can be recognised is each of these visions of the future and routes forward are not aligned. The efforts of all these organisations are not pushing towards the same goal. Over 250 people from over 150 organisations have worked with Zenzic to do exactly that. They have built upon more than a dozen well-respected thematic roadmaps to deliver what is intended as a tool for decision makers, policy makers and investors.
There is a collective benefit in striving towards one single vision – combined with a common understanding of how we get there. This is the premise of the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030. It is intended to be a neutral, independent, collaboratively built and jointly owned agreement on the vision of the future we all want to see.
The roadmap is cross-organisational in its creation. As a result, the roadmap provides a single agreed vision for the future.
One vision guides our journey to 2030
If we are to work together on our journey towards a safe and sustainable future in 2030, we must first define where exactly we are headed. The roadmap is underpinned by the 2030 Vision:
“By 2030, the UK will be benefitting from proven connected and automated mobility, with an increasingly safe and secure road network, improved productivity and greater access to transport for all.
Next-generation services and technology are designed and developed in the UK, powered by high value skills and a strong supply chain, and driven by public demand, we are a world leader.”
The aspirational vision of the future, highlights where the CAM sector wants to be and the benefits to be realised by 2030.
Four Themes that structure the roadmap
The roadmap is a tool that can be utilised by all in CAM. As such, it has been vital to ensure it is comprehensive enough to make the 2030 Vision a reality. The roadmap has been created with four key Themes at its core. These themes do not focus on just one area, for example, technology, but instead encompass a number of areas.
Society and People – takes a people-centric approach and is the primary driving force behind the roadmap. It covers societal mechanisms such as Vehicle Approvals and Licencing and Use.
Vehicles – the first of two technology-focussed Themes. It looks at the technology required to enable connected and self-driving vehicles, covering aspects such as the automated driving system (ADS) and sensors, as well as the components of vehicle design that are impacted by changes in use.
Infrastructure – the second of the technology Themes. It deals with the environment in which connected and self-driving vehicles will operate.
Services – is an outcome-focussed theme. In some senses, it is the culmination of the three other Themes. Services articulates how vehicles (and infrastructure) contribute to achieving the vision to improve the mobility of people and goods.
Where can you access the report?
Want to learn more about the insights delivered by the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030? Here’s how you can access the roadmap assets:
Interactive roadmap – The interactive roadmap delivers a comprehensive yet bespoke overview of the path towards 2030, allowing all to find their way through the roadmap. Access at zenzic.io/roadmap.
Roadmap report – the written report provides a narrative and context for the roadmap, complementing the interactive version. Download at zenzic.io/roadmap.
Insight workshop – enables you to find your own route through the roadmap. If you are interested in arranging a workshop or to book a meeting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Infrastructure theme of the roadmap shows how important early engagement is. There is no time to wait for connected and self-driving vehicles to appear before we adapt our existing products and services. The voice of the Highways community is a critical part of the early exploratory discussions of how legislation affects vehicles and services, which all rely on the right infrastructure at the right time. The danger of a standoff, where everyone is waiting for someone else to move first, will damage the UK’s position as a world-leader in CAM. Collaboration is at the heart of the UK’s global USP and we must all play our part in it.
Mark Cracknell is head of technology at Zenzic. Zenzic is curating the Connected and Automated Mobility Hub at Highways UK at the NEC on 6/7 November. Its programme will explore many of the infrastructure related themes and interdependencies contained within the roadmap.
Hopefully you’ve picked up on the relaunch at the beginning of this month (May) of Meridian Mobility as Zenzic. Set up in 2017 with its roots in both the Departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and for Transport, our role was and remains to accelerate the self-driving revolution by bringing together and unifying industry, government and academia.
Most notably, Zenzic is leading on Testbed UK, a collaboration of testbed centres, clustered broadly between London and Birmingham, which offers a range of facilities to safely take and test ideas from concept to deployment both virtually and physically. The emphasis is on the cross-sharing of data and collaboration; and it is this approach, we believe, that sets Testbed UK apart as a world-leading facility with the potential to put the UK at the centre of the global self-driving transport revolution.
But what’s in a name? Our new identity is intended to better reflect our purpose and help deliver our mission. The term zenzic means ‘squared’ or ‘to the power of’ and as such it conveys the multiplier effect we have on the UK’s connected and self-driving ecosystem. We are both catalyst and connector.
Alongside our new identity you may not have noticed some more subtle, albeit important nuances around the language we now use on our website and going forward within all our publications and communications.
Most significantly we are using the word “automated” not “autonomous” and we talk about “connected and automated mobility”, not “connected and autonomous vehicles.” “Cars” should be avoided unless when we mean only cars. We try to avoid acronyms when writing but I confess they do still sometimes pass my lips.
We aren’t saying “autonomous vehicles” – they aren’t acting in isolation as this term suggests. Not do we say “driverless” – there is a driver, it just isn’t a person at a steering wheel. And CAVs – well this is the challenge as it’s used so widely in out sector. Part of our role is to provide access to all to this revolution so a three letter acronym is so unwelcoming. But I can’t deny it is so convenient!
Instead we use the terms such as:
Connected and self-driving vehicles
Connected and self-driving technology
Connected and self-driving future
Connectivity is such an important aspect that can benefit mobility whether the driver is human or otherwise. For this reason we strive to say “self-driving vehicles” only if we mean self-driving and not connected.
This isn’t pedantry and very much echoes the sentiments of Professor Paul Jennings from Warwick Manufacturing Group, one of the Testbed UK partners, when speaking in a panel discussion we (as Meridian) convened at Highways UK last year.
Professor Jennings said, almost as an aside: “It may be a minor point but I’m not sure I like the term autonomous. Autonomous implies you are a bit out of control. I prefer to think of it in terms of letting the driving being automated because ultimately the vehicles should be there because they are making lives better for us. I think it comes down to looking at the benefits to people, the human benefit is really very important, and the term autonomous puts the emphasis on the machine.”
And that pretty succinctly sums up our thinking. Inevitably new technology has a period where the terminology isn’t agreed upon before it settles down. We urge you to join the Zenzic team in striving for consistency and accessibility – language may seem unimportant to some but it helps make this revolution understandable to everyone and bring about its benefits sooner.
The UK’s strategic road network is one of its most valuable national assets, key to our economic growth. Four million people use Highways England’s strategic road network each day, and this is forecast to grow by over 40% by 2040.
Just as an effective roads network is core to the country’s economic resilience, so this in turn must be underpinned by a skilled workforce. At Balfour Beatty, our expert teams have helped to deliver major strategic highways projects such the M4/M5 smart motorway upgrade, the A3 Hindhead Tunnel and the A21 upgrade scheme between Tonbridge and Pembury.
However, there is a widening disconnect between the number of skilled workers retiring and the number of young people entering the profession. It is imperative that we work to close the skills gap if we are to ensure the workforce required to efficiently build and maintain our roads in the long term.
The growth of initiatives like The 5% Club, an employer-led organisation whose members commit to achieving 5% of their workforce being in ‘earn and learn’ positions, is an encouraging step in the right direction. Apprenticeships are a vital route into work and we should build on the number of entry-level positions we offer, as well as attractive career progression opportunities.
Coupled with a skilled workforce, the development of innovative construction practices is essential to delivering the country’s major pipeline of forthcoming highways projects: Highways England is bringing forward record investment in roads through its £8.7 billion Regional Development Partnership framework for road improvements between 2018-2024, and a £6 billion 10-year Smart Motorways Programme.
We must modernise our construction methods to meet the challenge of delivering these essential investments in our highways. In Balfour Beatty’s recent paper entitled ‘Customer Driven: Delivering roads for the future’ we highlight the particular need for greater off-site manufacturing as one such solution.
The increased use of technology in road construction such as Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) is crucial to reducing on-site works. DfMA can reduce build time by 20-60% by allowing work on two or more phases of a highway scheme to take place simultaneously: while one part of the scheme is being completed onsite, the elements needed for the next phase can be constructed elsewhere. The highways industry needs to adapt the way it operates to see fewer but safer roadworks and shorter road closures across the board. This will not only increase the wellbeing of operatives undertaking roadworks, but also will improve customer experience while they are being delivered.
We recently put this into practice on the A14 Cambridge-Huntingdon improvement scheme, which is being delivered by Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Costain, where two 1,000 tonne bridges were constructed off-site and installed using a remote-controlled modular transporter. These forward-looking ways of delivering highways services ultimately allow us to move away from the traditional model of workers operating on the side of the road, thereby increasing safety for the workforce whilst reducing costs, reducing delivery time and reducing disruption to the general public.
A safe and suitable strategic road network is vital to connecting communities, delivering goods and keeping people moving up and down the country. As an industry we must invest in the resources required to deliver the significant pipeline of major highways schemes that are essential to shaping our modern infrastructure.
Phil Clifton, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business, is speaking on the Future of Mobility in the Main Theatre at 15.15 on 8 November
Phil Clifton – Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business
The highways sector has so far failed to move on from its traditional, largely manual ways of working. We have seen productivity flatline for over 20 years, struggled to deliver better customer service and communications and still impact the health, safety and wellbeing of our people through our working practices.
Collectively, we need a coherent industry-wide approach that combines our individual efforts, tackles the challenges we all face and delivers a highways sector that embraces the fourth industrial revolution. We need to learn from alternative industries away from the transport sector whose approaches are leading the way, such as Amazon’s 360 degree focus to improve technology which delivers greater customer service in a highly-competitive, rapidly-changing environment.
I want our industry to start this journey with Vision 2030. Investing in new initiatives and learning from other industry leaders, we can transform the highways sector.
We work in a people-centric business and I am passionate about the safety of my team. It cannot be right that we still ask our workforce to operate alongside a live carriageway.
For me, there are clear opportunities to remove our people from harm. We must harness the rapid advancement of technology and move quickly to use automation and digital solutions to deliver services differently. However, we must also build a supportive safety culture which enables our employees and our supply chain partners to protect themselves and others.
An engaged and empowered workforce is crucial in order to achieve Amey’s aim to create better places to live, work and travel, and Vision 2030 will achieve this.
To achieve results on a larger scale will mean breaking free from the siloes of technology to change the ‘resistance’ culture of the sector and the ways we operate. New technology is rife and right in front of us. The art of the possible is no longer the future but the here and now, and it gives us a massive opportunity to do things differently.
Across the industry, we are all working on isolated initiatives and Vision 2030 aims to join all of this good work up. The use of technology is giving us the opportunity to drive a culture shift across the sector. It is a culture shift that underpins not only greater efficiency, but also a new approach on health, safety and well-being. It also brings forward opportunities for greater diversity in our industry as the sector needs individuals with digital skills as well those with physical strength.
There is an understanding that change is needed. Vision 2030 focuses on what is required to achieve a notable shift in service delivery to engage and excite the next generation.
James Haluch is talking further about Vision 2030 on the Burges Salmon stage on Wednesday 7 November at 13.50
Adopting the maxim “what gets measured gets managed” implies by association that what hasn’t been tracked or measured properly is missed and consequently doesn’t get managed effectively.
In the transport sector, listening to the views of passengers and other road users is essential if operators are to find out – and deliver – what their customers need or want. It follows from this that measuring satisfaction forms a crucial element of understanding what the issues that really matter. It also helps those providing transport infrastructure and services to manage and to plan real, positive changes for the user.
Consequently, user satisfaction research has become a core activity for Transport Focus over the many years it has worked to bring the voice of the user to those who provide rail, bus and tram services. Since 2015, the organisation has also represented the interests of those using the A roads and the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England. Since being given this expanded remit we have undertaken many research studies focusing on a range of issues relevant to road users, all of which are available on our website.
These include topics such as users’ experiences and needs when caught up in delays; disruption caused by incidents or roadworks; their views on using smart motorways; and even the perennial road surface quality.
Earlier this year we published the second edition of our annual Motorway Services User Survey (MSUS), which enabled the industry to see how motorway users rate the facilities they are offered at service areas up and down the country. Results have already informed some major improvements for users and will help to drive up satisfaction further over time.
Transport Focus also knows that our motorways and A roads are used by many different people, with varying needs and expectations. That is why we will be publishing more research in the coming months looking at the experience of disabled road users, as well as that examining how to measure the satisfaction of cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians who use, travel alongside or cross over these roads.
At this year’s Highways UK, we will launch the Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) – our most significant survey of road user opinion since we became engaged with the sector in 2015. It is an entirely new national survey, with results available on the new Transport Focus data hub, that will provide useful information to Highways England and others in the sector, helping them focus on improving the things that matter to road users. Meanwhile, the current National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey(NRUSS) will continue until March 2020.
SRUS is far more than just a replacement for NRUSS, however. It has been built differently, gathers data from interviews with far more road users from across the country, and will support more detailed analysis. SRUS will allow data to be interrogated or ‘sliced’ in many different ways, depending on individual needs – for example by road, region, time of travel and category of road user. This ensures that anyone, from a fleet manager to a maintenance contractor or member of the public, can go in via the online data hub to examine information from a range of perspectives. Overall satisfaction, journey time, management of roadworks, road surface quality, feelings about safety and driver information at both a national, regional or even specific road level will all be available at the touch of a button.
By providing a more sophisticated means to access a wealth of data about road user satisfaction, we believe that Highways England and others will have a much clearer understanding of where they need to concentrate their efforts to meet the expectations and the needs of road users.
Anthony Smith and Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP will launch the new Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) on 7 November at 11.10 on the Burges Salmon stage at Highways UK 2018.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) and the new public transport models and powertrain technologies which are developing with them, are regularly positioned as the solution to a wide range of societal challenges ranging from:
· city centre congestion – and the consequent costs from lost productivity and ill-health impacts from air pollution
· road safety problems – after all, the often-cited statistic about accidents is that we can trace 94% to human behaviour (1)… (more on this later), and
· isolation and societal fragmentation – with those in rural environments insufficiently served by public transport options (2).
However, to realise the benefits these new technologies and service models afford, there are a myriad of ‘human’ issues to be understood.
How can we address issues of trust (in both the technology and in other people with whom vehicles may be shared); behavioural change elements to support new technology uptake; and socio-political aspects of geographical equality and the policy requirements for change?
The complexity of these issues alongside the socio-technical nature of the systems in the intelligent mobility domain, mean a human factors approach is ideal (by which I mean a systems-thinking, human and system goal optimising, design discipline – (3)).
But what can a Human Factors Approach really bring?
One of the heroes of our discipline, the late Professor John Wilson, described Human Factors as a mix of science, craft and art. This is one of the great strengths of Human Factors and the reason, alongside its human centred nature, that it’s so helpfully placed to deal with the range of problems I’ve outlined.
For example, optimising end-to-end journeys for people, under the banner of ‘Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) is proposed as part of the solution to city centre congestion. The MaaS trials in which we have engaged to date, have been part science (helping us work out our hypotheses; a sampling strategy; and an analytical approach). They have been part craft, as we have developed personas and the information delivery methods for our trials. Finally, they have been art, as we have (literally in some cases) drawn a picture of what’s possible from our minds-eye and asked people to go with us.
A focus on the interactions…
If 94% of car accidents are ’caused’ by human behaviour (and therein lies another article) then 94% of human behaviour can be seen to be driven by the ‘system’ (I’m using more art than science with my statistic here). In order really to understand what’s happening on our roads, and then to build solutions which really solve the safety issues, our focus must not only be on the internal human ‘drivers’ of behaviour, but on the contextual factors and wider interactions of the whole system from which the behaviour emerges.
Deirdre O’Reilly (4), Head of Social Research and Behaviour Change at Highways England explains: “We want to really understand what influences drivers’ behaviour on our network, all the interactions between them and the wider system element. By adopting the Safe System approach, we recognise that safety is our shared responsibility and we want to use all the avenues at our disposal to support drivers to ‘do the right thing’.”
Human Factors risk analysis tools like NET-HARMS (5) allow us to start to model the interactions between risks and not just deal with discreet elements. This leads nicely to my last point…
A system’s thinking approach…
“If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.” (6) Douglas Adams
To work on big social issues like isolation and fragmentation using future mobility solutions, we need to admit that these issues are what my old boss used to describe as ‘way more than a head full’. The temptation is therefore to dissect the problem into smaller parts because then the issues becomes manageable. But then we don’t see the whole, and we don’t see the properties which emerge from the whole – we need a systems-thinking approach rather than only a reductionist approach to do this, sometimes looking at the whole system and not only slices of it.
Immersive techniques such as ethnography are pivotal to support an understanding of the system as a whole.
Felicity Heathcote Marcz, Cyborg Ethnographer in SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business explains…
‘By immersing myself in the context of interest, I can gain a much richer understanding of what it’s really like. It’s vital to get below the surface of complex issues and systems, and start to observe why people think, feel and do what they do. Without approaches like ethnography, this depth of understanding evades us.’
So where does that leave us?
There is great potential in the new mobility technologies and business models developing at this point in our human history. On their own, they are not a silver bullet for all of our modern-day ills, but, to mix metaphors, a Human Factors approach can certainly bring them a shot in the arm…
Dr Claire Williams is Technical Director for intelligent mobility at SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business