How mobility hubs and shared transport can play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero – Richard Dilks,  CoMoUK

How mobility hubs and shared transport can play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero – Richard Dilks, CoMoUK

Richard Dilks, Chief Executive at CoMoUK, explains how mobility hubs and shared transport schemes can play a significant role in the UK’s journey to Net Zero by cutting congestion and carbon emissions while improving air quality and the nation’s health.

 

Richard Dilks, Chief Executive at CoMoUK

At Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), we want to build on the strong growth in the shared transport sector to further extend its ability to deliver low carbon, lower cost sustainable transport options across the UK.

This is part of reducing dependency on privately-owned cars which are generally inefficiently used, costly to own or lease, take up a lot of space and are the major component of transport emissions in the UK.

Transport is in turn this country’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, producing more than a quarter of the UK’s total emissions. Its emissions have not fallen in a generation.

We can’t hope to meet our climate change targets without greater use of shared transport as part of a broader sustainable transport package of public transport and active travel too.

That’s why we would like to see car clubs, bike sharing, shared rides and demand responsive transport spread across rural, island, suburban and urban areas.

Part of this shift can come from mobility hubs, which have been hugely successful in transforming the lives of people and businesses in parts of Europe.

Mobility hubs bring public transport together with walking and cycling options and shared transport.

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ design, they can include community facilities such as cafés, fitness areas, green space, package collection points, Wi-Fi and phone charging, real-time journey planning information, walking areas and disabled access.

We believe these hubs can contribute to the goal of creating ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’, which enable people to live, learn and meet their needs within a 20 minute walk of their home.

They are common in a number of comparator countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium and Norway as well as in many US cities.

Both the UK and Scottish governments are keen on these hubs, and the first CoMoUK -accredited one has already opened in a suburb of London and with plans underway for several in Scotland.

We believe the creation of more mobility hubs around the UK can help with meeting climate change targets, while also bringing energy and excitement to urban centres and providing new opportunities and connectivity for some of the country’s most deprived areas.

Benefits include reducing the dominance of private car use and the associated problems of congestion, carbon emissions, poor air quality and social exclusion.

They also offer convenience and choice with the possibility of seamless switches and improved links between different layers of transport.

Mobility hubs can lead to improved access for vulnerable users and can help to improve overall public transport networks by plugging gaps in connections.

Before the Covid pandemic, over two thirds of Scotland’s commuters drove to work by car or van, and 66 per cent of all car journeys in Scotland were single occupancy trips.

Government figures for England also suggest that 62 per cent of all car or van journeys were made by a lone driver in 2019, rising to 89 per cent for commuting journeys.

Persuading the public to transition from petrol and diesel cars to electric alternatives has long been talked up as a silver bullet.

But while they may be better for the environment, they are no less guilty of causing congestion and the manufacturing process is just as environmentally unfriendly.

Instead, we would like to see greater use of bike hire schemes, car clubs, ride sharing and demand responsive transport.

In a recent survey by CoMoUK, more than half of users of bike share schemes said they would have made their last trip by car or taxi if the option to hire a bike had not been available.

Meanwhile, our research finds that the number of people signed up to car clubs in Scotland is now at an all time high of 38,000.

To increase vehicle occupancy, we believe employers and large organisations can do more to incentivise ride sharing and carpooling for commuting journeys and business trips – particularly as employees begin to return to workplaces as Covid restrictions are lifted.

 

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Richard Dilks is chief executive of the UK’s national shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK). It was established in 1999 and is dedicated to the public benefit of shared transport such as shared cars, bikes, e-scooters and rides.

Richard is speaking at Highways UK on 2-3 November about how mobility hubs and shared transport schemes can play a significant role in the UK’s journey to Net Zero

“Bringing the environment into the picture” – How local authorities can add a new dimension to highways asset management – Andy Peart, Yotta

“Bringing the environment into the picture” – How local authorities can add a new dimension to highways asset management – Andy Peart, Yotta

Andy Peart outlines how local authorities can utilise tech and data to inform their highways asset management decisions and bring in a new environmental dimension.

 

The science of strategic highways asset management is going through seismic change. Historically, the approach focused on gauging the financial impact of different road repair and maintenance decisions. Local authorities had to weigh up whether it made sense to save money at the outset by using a less expensive surface treatment, only to have to spend more down the line on road repairs or additional surface dressings. On the other hand, they had to assess whether using more durable but expensive materials from the word go would ultimately prove an economically-sounder decision.

This model is now rapidly evolving. There are a range of drivers. Residents are much more attuned to the importance of sustainable construction. They care about the highways development and maintenance process being environmentally efficient. They want the carbon footprint generated across the highways lifecycle to be kept to a minimum. But they also want councils to take a broader perspective and think about how decisions made about highways management and maintenance might impact the wider community.

Government is also becoming more cogniscent of environmental factors in the way it allocates funding to local authority highways departments. Questions relating to sustainability have recently been included for the first time in the Local Highways Maintenance Incentive Fund.

 

The impact of technological advances

To meet these kinds of drivers, new predictive analytics technology is now coming on stream, allowing local authorities to base highways management and maintenance decisions on their impact on the wellbeing of residents and the local economy and environment, as well as financial cost and road condition. Thanks to these advances, the authorities can move beyond a pure focus on road conditions to thinking much more about where roads are located, who is using them and what the overall environmental impact of their construction and maintenance will be.

Part of this may be around the ability to analyse where pinch points on the network are causing cars to idle at junctions for long periods of time. Part of it may be around better understanding how infrastructure decisions impact the quality of life in specific neighbourhoods: including projected job creation, support for economic growth, environmental impact, and changes in levels of access to important public resources such as hospitals and schools.

However, a key element of the equation will inevitably be around the treatment used on the surface of the road. Many local authorities are working with larger contractors. The local authority effectively manages the highway while the contractors go out  and lay the tarmac, and, increasingly today as they are doing that, collect information about temperature and CO2 emissions from the scheme. Typically, they will have specifications around different treatments.

These might include assigning a carbon or NOx output to a treatment that can then get added to the overall lifecycle model. It is another example that demonstrates how highways lifecycle planning is becoming ever greener today.

Many councils are still in the early stages of trying to roll put this kind of approach and currently, they are still trying to understand what their baseline is. They need the ability to model these kinds of factors quickly in order to be able to support the decision-making process on new road builds. It may be a nuanced final decision if, for example, one choice may be more expensive financially but also likely to deliver lower carbon output over time compared to the alternatives.

 

Flexibility of choice

The aim of any asset management solution in this space is not to drive the council’s end decision in any specific direction, it is more around giving local authorities the ability to run different scenarios and then put those options in front of their senior decision-makers. This need to be done as part of an approach which effectively says – ultimately it your decision but we are giving you the best available information to make it.’

These are complex judgements, after all. Low carbon treatments for highways assets are often cheap to invest in. They are therefore attractive to local authorities who want to go ahead quickly with an environmentally-friendly approach. However, if the council is going to have to re-apply the treatment every year, it is going to end up costing more and it is going to output more carbon. So authorities really need to look beyond short-term gains. In this case, for example, they need to consider  whether it might be better to stick to the original road surface, which may be higher carbon at the outset but require much less carbon to maintain over a 30-year lifecycle.

To properly assess that decision, local authorities will need to have the right data available to them, together with the relevant skills to assess that data and the ability to spend time on it and deliver it. Most importantly they will need the right asset management software solution delivered by a vendor they can trust and that can also deliver expert consultancy on top. If they get that formula right, to broaden the overall picture that informs their highways asset management decisions, including bringing a new environmental dimension into it.

 

Andy is a marketing leader and business strategist with 30+ years’ experience in the AI and B2B software sector. Working with connected asset management leader, Yotta, Andy heads their marketing function and helps ensure the company’s innovative software drives business benefit for its 200+ public and private sector customers. www.weareyotta.com

Yotta are exhibiting once again at Highways UK this year on 2-3 November at the NEC in Birmingham on stand I4

Smart cities need smart highways and roads

Smart cities need smart highways and roads

Transport is one of the main contributors to carbon emissions in London and to meet the Mayor’s ambitious target to make the capital a net zero city by 2030 we will need to dramatically increase smart and electric transport alternatives – and not just electric cars! And to achieve this, there is a pressing need to consider the role of highways and streets within the emerging digital ecosystem, says Nathan Pierce, Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities at the Greater London Authority.

 

nathan pierce
Nathan Pierce, Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities, Greater London Authority

Our highways are connectors; to, from and within our cities. Today, cities are under increasing pressure to develop more effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and smart infrastructure is essential for this modernisation. A good example is smart mobility. The demand for intelligent mobility solutions that make it easier for people and goods to be transported to, from and through cities is growing. And so many cities have stepped up to the challenge, working across sectors to find solutions that work for their citizens.

Our major international smart cities venture – Sharing Cities – is addressing some of the most pressing urban challenges facing urban areas today. Three lighthouse cities (London, Lisbon, Milan) have implemented a range of green tech and data services in close collaboration with three fellow cities (Bordeaux, Burgas, Warsaw) to test out the latest thinking and to scale up what works.

After drawing on nearly €25 million in EU funding, the project has triggered nearly €270 million in investment in an effort to expand a smart strategy that involves energy use, low carbon transport and data management. 34 partners in Sharing Cities from the private sector – both large and small – public sector and academic institutions have collaborated to develop workable business models for smart technologies that can be scaled up and replicated across other UK and European cities. In doing so they have supported the growth of the green tech market.

All six cities have demonstrated the benefits that using green tech and working together can have on carbon reduction and service delivery. In the first phase we implemented building retrofits, e-mobility, sustainable energy management systems, smart street infrastructure (such as smart lampposts), urban sharing platforms and digital incentivisation applications. Using the learnings from lighthouse cities, fellow cities co-designed, validated and implemented similar solutions and models within their own city contexts.

In the world of mobility, we have managed to shift the dial on how our cities approach mobility as a service and shared transport solutions. We have deployed over ten mobility islands across our cities and demonstrated the contribution they make. We have deployed 1,000s of publicly owned shared bikes which have led to improvements in cycling infrastructure, especially in Lisbon. We have converted entire municipal fleets to electric vehicles with very positive results. And we have tested a whole range of parking sensors and traffic management technologies that can help us to reach our climate targets.

We know that this technology can have a real impact, now we want to reach out to various sectors and boroughs across London to understand how we can scale up what works and link in with existing transit plans.

Nathan Pierce is Head of Smart London and Sharing Cities, Greater London Authority. Nathan is speaking on the Big Thinking Stage at Highways UK (12.50, 3 November). He will further explore how highways and transport fit within the smart city context and London’s 2030 net-zero ambitions, while providing latest insights from the international Sharing Cities programme.

How vehicle sensor data is underpinning a revolution in road safety

How vehicle sensor data is underpinning a revolution in road safety


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 Talking Heads; How vehicle sensor data is underpinning a revolution in road safety
Steve Birdsall is CEO of Gaist

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

Using AI to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on our Highways

Using AI to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on our Highways

Author: Peter Mildon – COO and Co-Founder, Vivacity Labs

Peter Mildon, COO and Co-Founder of Vivacity Labs, has been reviewing data from Vivacity’s national network of AI-based video road sensors to assess the impact of Covid-19 on our highways networks on a daily basis, and considers what the long-term impact of Covid-19 will be on the UK’s transport habits in light of the climate emergency.

When we founded Vivacity in late 2015, one of our objectives was to make a positive impact to the way people used the roads in the UK. Our initial focus was on developing a cyclist sensor capable of operating on a truly multi-modal road space, in the hope that it would be used to encourage the modal shift away from polluting vehicles towards active travel. 

Almost as a by-product of needing to positively identify other modes in order to differentiate them from cyclists, our sensor diversified into the full multi-modal sensor it is today. In 2016, we won Highways UK’s Intelligent Infrastructure Hub competition for the new technology most likely to revolutionise the transport industry.

At the time, I never imagined that the sensor network we had started to grow would prove so useful in helping at a time of national crisis, and less still that it would be used to monitor the impact government messaging aimed at reducing pedestrian and cyclist numbers in urban areas.

Over the past two weeks, we have been monitoring the impact on road usage during the Covid-19 outbreak. By Wednesday 25 March, there had been a 60% reduction in traffic across the country. While some regions saw a quicker reduction in traffic numbers than others last week, since the lockdown on Monday 23 March, this reduction has been remarkably uniform from city to city, and from urban area to highway. Analysing the change by mode also yielded some interesting results:

•          Pedestrians saw the largest drop off at 80% 

•          Car traffic dropped by 60%

•          Cyclists initially dropped very slowly, but since Monday have now dropped by 75%

•          Light Goods vehicles dropped by 45%

•          Initially there was no change seen in Motorbike or HGV volumes, but since Monday they have dropped by 65% and 40% respectively

•          Even buses have now dropped by 40% since the lockdown, indicating significant reductions in public transport services

The results clearly presented a drop in total traffic, but also a modal shift towards home deliveries.

Michael Vardi from Valerann, the 2017 Intelligent Infrastructure Hub winner, has reported similar traffic level drops from Israel and Spain, where Valerann’s Smart Road System is also monitoring traffic movements.

In Oxfordshire, we decided to push the analysis further. Our sensor network here has not just been recording the volume of traffic, but also the path that each road user was taking across the space. We decided to post-process the data to calculate if social distancing measures were being followed. 

Example of measurement between pedestrians calculated with pedestrians coming within 2m of each other counted from stock footage. Red shows <2m; Yellow 2-3m; and green >3m

It has been discussed a lot in the media recently whether the government should be using mobile data to monitor social distancing. Many people are concerned that such an invasion of civil liberties might not be un-done once the crisis was over. This type of video analysis provides an alternative, which is non-invasive from a privacy perspective and offers a much higher resolution on the social distancing measurement. By using edge processing, no personal data is ever generated by the system – no videos are transmitted or stored, and the AI never knows who it saw. Instead we are able simply to acquire the data that is needed to help the Government make decisions on how its lockdown policy should adapt next. 

Number of pedestrians passing within 2m of another pedestrian within the field of view of our 78 sensors in Oxfordshire per 5 minutes. Blue: Week commencing 8 March, Orange: Week commencing 15 March, Green: Week commencing 22 March. Data provided up to 24 March

The social distancing analysis showed that by 24 March, less than 48 hours after the Prime Minister announced a lockdown, peak daily pedestrian interactions had dropped by 70%, and the morning rush-hour peak was no longer discernible.

Clearly, Covid-19 is having a profound impact on all of our daily lives and has changed the approach to work for the majority of the UK work force. The question remains; what happens when all of this is over? Will everyone go back to their daily commute, or will companies finally realise that work can be done just as efficiently, and just as securely from home? 

Given the climate emergency, I hope we don’t see road traffic demand bounce back to the ‘pre-Covid’ peaks. I was also reassured to see that demand for cycling initially held up compared with other non-delivery modes – perhaps this has encouraged some individuals to try cycling rather than take public transport, at least in the early stages of social distancing. When this is all over, hopefully some positives can grow from this major international crisis. 

 

A new source of road construction data

A new source of road construction data

Author: Tony Gosling – Chief Digital Officer, Pell Frischmann

Tony Gosling

The design of highway schemes would be improved if designers and decision makers could easily understand the cost, time, risk and disruption impacts of individual design choices

The traditional process doesn’t work like that. Designers work with little to no data on the real-life impact of options, then costing and time scheduling are done separately after the design without the trade-offs between time and cost being visible.

We find that elapsed time in construction is often a more significant driver of costs than traditional estimating process allows for; costs of the project team, road closure and equipment are all proportional to time and, in some cases, work expands to fill the time available and delays ripple through to all on-site labour as productivity drops.

This is something that we, in Pell Frischmann, have been trying to change. With an approach we call 5D Way of Working (5D WoW), a digitally enabled process that brings rapidly available time and cost information into a more iterative workflow, and brings design for constructability, value and maintainability into focus. In our work on buildings, we find that this can drive a better value design and construction process, reduce the duration of construction and reduce the disruption to road users.

One of the major issues we must solve to make the 5DWoW process work is having decent data on the actual costs and time of similar projects to use in estimating. Captured data in the industry, often stuck in a project data silo, can’t easily be combined and is not structured consistently, thus is hard to compare. Even the simple act of comparing the project estimates with the project actuals, as well as understanding why the project is late and over budget, is rarely done. If we want to get better at estimating and designing, then being able to learn continuously from each project and feeding that knowledge back into better estimates and better designs is crucial.

A new source of road construction data that we are starting to make use of can be collected using drones and processed automatically in the cloud into survey grade, accurate progress tracking for large linear infrastructure like highways.

We are working with the pioneering tech company Datumate that has developed market-leading drone and project cloud processing services that measure progress and variance between as-designed and as-built. It is usually cheaper than traditional surveys, but also generates more rich and consistent data. Deutsche Bahn have been using Datumate to monitor rail construction, both for progress, and for quality and to deliver as-built data. The system even allows project managers to ‘go back in time’ to see what the site looked like and make measurements that you didn’t know you were going to need – this can be very helpful in resolving claims and disputes.

Using that sort of data from drones, processed by a cloud service, for measuring progress on highways projects better will help enhance project delivery. Then using that data to improve estimating and design decisions in future projects can make a huge difference to delivering cost-effective highway schemes on time.

Whether you agree or disagree, or want to understand more about what drone data can be used for Pell Frischmann and Datumate will be at Highways UK; join us for a coffee at the Recharge Lounge.

Tony Gosling is Chief Digital Officer at Pell Frischmann. John Pickworth, Pell Frischmann’s Intelligent Transport Director and Tal Meirzon, CEO, of Datumate will explore this exciting application of drone technology at speaking at the Burges Salmon Stage on Thursday 7 November at 12.40.

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Never, never, never give up

Never, never, never give up

Author: Karla Wakeman, Innovation Lead for Connected Transport, Innovate UK

Karla Wakeman

Winston Churchill once said “never, never, never give up”. A good moto for us all and often applies to finding funding for your projects and innovations.

We witness this often at Innovate UK and although it can mean something as simple as the funding pot for that competition ran dry, as frustrating as it can be, the feedback from our expert, independent assessors can often be instrumental in making sure you are at the top for the next funding pot.

Our process is thorough but not always simplistic, nor should it be as we offer millions of pounds of tax payers money so want it to be transparent and effective to get the best projects funded.

So what can you do to give yourselves the best shot? 

Assessors are always keen to see the value for money. Whether you are asking for £10k or £10m, does your application clearly demonstrate maximum return on the investment? Assessors are a savvy bunch and if you are asking for £10m for something which should cost £9m, they will pick it up.

With the current political climate, we are always on the lookout for projects which can go large when it comes to international opportunities.

·      Does your project have the potential to be world leading?

·      Closer to home, can it be successfully exploited in the UK?

In my experience as an Innovation Lead, the best projects look at exploitation from not just day one but way before as part of the application. Plans change, but to demonstrate you have considered exploitation shows project potential.

Read the scope

Another common mistake is where the innovation is not at the right stage of development for the particular competition. If the competition states it is looking to fund ready-to-go pilots, if you apply with a feasibility study proposal, you won’t be funded and will be considered out of scope.

Check the scope clearly, especially where TRL (Technology readiness Levels) are mentioned.

You might not be applying to us for public funds but regardless, the next piece of advice should still be considered.

·      Why should public money be spent on this? (Or in the case of private funding, why should they invest?)

It is imperative that you can define this and explain the additionality that will be achieved. What are you offering that others aren’t?

If you clearly define the above whilst answering the questions in the application (many don’t!), you will be on your way to joining thousands of successfully funded projects such as those funded by Highways England through Innovate UK.

Highways England and SBRI

An SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) enables government departments like Highways England to connect with technology organisations, finding innovative solutions to specific public sector challenges and needs.

In this instance, Highways England is investing up to £20 million across two parallel SBRI competitions to develop innovative ideas and solutions. These projects have been funded to change the way UK roads are designed, managed and used and the 23 successful projects will be displaying on our Innovation Hub at Highways UK. 

The scope of this competition was purposely broad covering the following themes:-

·      Theme 1: Design, construction and maintenance – Construction site safety and efficiency

·      Theme 2: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – Getting roads ready for AV including maintenance vehicles

·      Theme 3: Customer Mobility – Improved customer experience

·      Theme 4: Energy & Environment  – Energy savings, noise, circular economy

·      Theme 5: Operations – Managing road demand and quality

·      Theme 6: Air Quality

In the competition process, the 23 projects which have been funded embraced the challenges that Highways England are trying to solve. They demonstrated value for money for Highways England, exploitation potential and clear additionality over and above the normal course of business.

At Innovate UK, we use our tried and tested competition process to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. It is rare that any two competitions are the same as we always strive for excellence but for certain, when it comes to supporting getting the best innovative projects for UK Plc, we never, never, never give up.

Karla Jakeman is Innovation Lead for Connected Transport at Innovate UK, Highways UK’s Innovation Partner. Come to the Innovation Hub to meet representatives and learn more about many of the successful projects from the recent Highways England SBRI competitions.

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It’s time to get to grips with digital

It’s time to get to grips with digital

Author: Lesley Waud – Transport Design Development Director, SNC-Lavalin Atkins

Lesley Waud

By people, I really mean a culture and a mindset: a perception by many that doing things ‘digitally’ is a threat to long-held technical specialism or expertise. But I don’t see it in those terms. To me, the risk is in us not helping people embrace the benefits of using digital systems and processes in their work. As leaders, it’s up to us to empower our teams to use technology as an enabler, and it’s up to us to have the appetite and desire to show leadership as to why doing things differently now matters.

That means upskilling our workforce and helping people who may be resistant to change by providing the right support and opportunities for them to develop. It’s about reassuring them that digital transformation isn’t a threat, but an opportunity to learn new skills to equip us to face the digital future. If we don’t tackle this issue now, the discourse will continue to be dominated by those that would rather tell you all the reasons for not doing something, rather than finding ways you can – which alienates those who are eager to adopt new technology, and who are snapping at our heels to use it.

When we deploy digital processes to carry out repetitive activities it frees up our valuable time and lets us focus on what really adds value for our clients. At a recent presentation to clients, an Atkins engineer told of how he and his team had developed a simple algorithm that could come up with literally thousands of design options in a fraction of the time it would take for them to develop one design had they been using traditional, passive methods. The algorithm now helps inform their decisions at each stage of the design process – while outsourcing the time-consuming task of data processing – so that the team can dedicate more of their time to what’s important: validating the findings, assessing the best options, and improving the ultimate final design. In short, applying their expertise to the higher-value end area of the process.

Embracing digital doesn’t mean the prestige of a career in design and engineering is diminished. Today, we are fortunate that we have game-changing digital technology to support our tasks, that many before us simply haven’t had access to, so let’s capitalise on that, and use it to our advantage.

The second barrier to digital transformation within our industry is commercial models, and how they are structured; in fact, in my view this is a serious barrier to digital transformation happening at all. This is where we must start thinking very differently: we need to reshape commercial models, root and branch, a tough ask, perhaps, as many clients are still comfortable with current models based on unit cost and input of effort, as opposed to thinking how, as an industry, we might link cost instead to the value of the service. We need to redistribute value earlier in the process and capitalise on the benefit of doing so.

We need to start asking how we can create components and constituent parts of a project – supported by digital transformation – that are compatible and that can be configured more intelligently so they have a life afterwards. We need to be asking: how could we break a project down into components that allow an element of selection, for example, like choosing from a car brochure, without reverting to bespoke designs for every element, and whereby certain design elements can be reused?

Take motorway construction, for example: there’s a perception that if you have a one-size-fits-all approach, you’d be wasting material because it would be overdesigned for the majority of circumstances. But in reality, we know that we don’t necessarily save material by designing precise components for a single location due to the challenges we face on site in achieving a consistent quality in variable conditions and not using surplus materials – for example, the partial concrete load that goes to waste. By manufacturing a standardised solution, offsite, even if it’s going to be oversized in some circumstances, it will have been manufactured in a very controlled environment, and with very precise material quantities and quality control. So already, significantly less material is wasted compared with building it from scratch on-site.

However, if payment and the measurement of value is linked to time and materials, we will not recover the considerable investments we are making and will continue to make in transforming our industry.  A single standard solution that will add considerable benefit needs to have its value linked to the outcomes it enables rather than the input effort in creating and, importantly, maintaining the relevance of the product and we all need to work together to create long-term sustainable future models for our industry.

The good news is, some of our clients’ responses to the government’s agenda to do things differently and drive productivity have been very positive. We are already seeing some good, early examples of commercial models that incentivise suppliers, based on results. I believe our clients want more digital solutions to infrastructure questions, and that they want to improve productivity. But to get this right in the long term we need to get real and stop mixing old-world commercial models and behaviours with new expectations.

If we’re serious about innovative solutions, we must grasp the opportunities of working to innovative commercial models – and that means being emboldened by the transformative powers of digital technology, not threatened by it. When we do so, we will not only uphold our professional status, but it will also mean we may collectively share in the added-value of a project’s lifecycle.

Seven things we can start doing right now…

1.         See digital as a game-changer that can support traditional roles

2.         Understand, guide and develop those fearful of change

3.         Foster new digital behaviours and upskilling, such as knowledge-sharing

4.         Reshape commercial models to encourage digital ways of working

5.         Use digital to encourage value through standardising components

6.         Use digital to behave and act more sustainably

7.         Procure services in smarter and more sustainable ways

Lesley Waud is design development director for transportation at Atkins, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group. Lesley will be exploring these themes further as part of the Big Thinking programme at Highways UK on 6/7 November.

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Future mobility, made possible

Future mobility, made possible

Author: John Batten – Global Cities Director, Arcadis

John Batten

By 2050, more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, and this rapid rise in urbanisation will dramatically reshape how we live our lives. From climate change to mobility, the impact of population growth means we will need to rethink many of the ways in which we, as citizens, interact with our environment, says John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis

Cities everywhere are grappling with congestion, overcrowding, poor air quality and the need to drive greater prosperity and competitiveness. Our experience of a city often comes down to how easy it is to move around, yet with transport contributing to 20% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 7 million people dying from air pollution every year, the challenges are clear.

Is there a solution?

Seamless, Connected and Sustainable Mobility

The answer to a seamless transport experience lies in the smart application of technology. New innovations and low carbon solutions that can be integrated with and complement the existing transport network offer the best opportunity for progress. However, this can only be effective if the needs of the citizen are put at the heart of future transport plans.

Numerous emerging trends will have an impact. From Artificial Intelligence and drone technology disrupting first and last mile delivery, to the reduction in car ownership and the rise of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) and Mobility as a Service (Maas), success ultimately depends on how a city aligns its vision with the citizen experience.

Postcards from around the world

We are already seeing some exciting interventions happening in cities all around the world.

We are working with the city of Amsterdam to design and procure a MaaS solution for their Zuidas business district. A MaaS service makes it easier for people to plan, book, pay for and access a range of different transport modes with a single App. Our work included business engagement to achieve agreement from 15 of the largest employers in the region to combine their ‘buying power’ for the MaaS solution; creating a demonstration service (an “experiment”) to challenge employees to give up their car for a month to experience MaaS, generate early adopter advocates and to capture essential user feedback to input to the procurement approach; and consultancy support for the MaaS procurement.

As people start making smarter choices about how they move, we hope to see a reduction in the pressure on the crowded road network in Amsterdam’s business district, improving air quality, and helping citizens to be happier, healthier and more connected.

New York is also a city feeling the strain of population growth and an overburdened transport network. With people living in increasingly close proximity, buildings often don’t have the space to store or recycle waste. The result is that, in one day alone, up to 34 waste trucks are traversing four boroughs to service businesses in a neighbourhood where the infrastructure is already straining under the weight of demand.

In response, we used our digital knowledge to develop a waste collection strategy that made better use of existing resources. Based on a simulation model, we found that a zoned approach would reduce truck traffic by a staggering 18 million miles a day. A simple approach, with a significant outcome.

Putting future mobility into practice

There are some huge opportunities for UK cities to benefit. Turning our attention closer to home, Cardiff’s new electric vehicle strategy demonstrates how an ambitious city is upping its mobility game.

Government policy dictates that all new cars and vans will need to be Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) by 2040, yet Cardiff has significantly fewer charge points compared to other core cities. The council needed to develop an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network across the while city, leading by example by cleaning up its own fleet. This is a large, wholescale change that can only be achieved through collaboration with key partners, ensuring the EV agenda sits alongside a much wider sustainable transport strategy.

The step-by-step guide we used to help Cardiff Council offers a blueprint that can help any city review its future mobility strategy.

A 6-Step Guide

1. Using the City’s vision as a starting point, define detailed objectives.

2. Review the current market.

3. Develop an appropriate stakeholder engagement strategy. Who needs to be part of the decision-making process?

4. Establish business and operating models that will work long-term.

5. Enable rollout. Is the plan seamless, does it meet required standards, and does it provide the best user experience?

6. Manage & maintain. Reliability is key to user confidence.

With just a few practical measures, future mobility – designed around the needs of the citizen – can become a reality.

John Batten is Global Cities Director at Arcadis. He is speaking on the Burges Salmon stage at Highways UK offering further observations on Big thinking from big cities, radical ideas on mobility from around the world. His colleague Tom Morgan is also presenting on Cardiff’s EV transition with Andrew Gregory, Director of Environment, Planning and Transport at Cardiff City Council, in the main theatre.

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Help us hack the highways by better exploiting the value of data

Help us hack the highways by better exploiting the value of data

Author: Charlie Henderson – Global Head of Roads, PA Consulting

Charlie Henderson

The UK highways sector needs to move faster and collaborate with those outside of traditional sector boundaries if we’re to improve the industry and create a positive human future. Imagine if we could work together across industry to use data to address major transport challenges. That’s exactly what we’ll be doing at Highways UK this year, as part of PA’s Hackathon.

We believe there’s an opportunity to better exploit the value of the data that is already collected, including combining it with other datasets.

The highways sector has always had lots of data, for example data on vehicle speed, flow and road layout. As an engineering-based industry we use data to support decision-making, for example why roads are built, when they are maintained and how flow of vehicles can be optimised along our busiest roads. All good stuff that means in the UK we have a pretty effective road network that is key to economic growth and social mobility. But I believe as a sector we have been slow – certainly slower than other sectors – to exploit the value of data.

Opportunities for change

Industry has been slow to exploit data due to a combination of factors. First, the culture of the sector is based around standards and guidance developed over many years – often looking backwards at precedence rather than ahead to possibility. Another issue is the focus on risk avoidance – we’re a safety-critical industry and are cautious to adopt new technologies and ways of working. These are important characteristics when making significant investment decisions in a safety-critical environment, but we should also recognise they can hold us back.

Better exploiting available data brings a number of benefits. You can better understand when infrastructure needs maintenance (predictive maintenance). You can manage when people use the road network (more active demand management) and you can provide people with information to make the right mode choice (encouraging a modal shift) which will help enable better outcomes for road users, businesses and communities.

Going further, faster

Working with others can help drive change at pace. As a sector, there are examples of collaborative working. But this tends to be with those within the sector – those who share the same culture, experiences and training. We need to reach further and work with those outside our traditional sector boundaries. This includes those from the automotive and energy sectors, mobile phone operators, behavioural psychologists and data scientists. And we need to ask different sorts of questions – less about trips, more about purpose of travel.

You can get involved

As part of this year’s Highways UK, we’re hosting a hackathon to help solve these challenges.

We are asking for multi-organisational teams (for example an engineering firm, an academic institution and data analytics organisation) to come together to create teams of different skills and insight. We (PA and Highways UK) can help facilitate introductions if need be.

Teams will have exclusive access to a O2 dataset, which includes national origin-destination data of c4.3m cells relating to 140m journeys. We’ll also highlight other available datasets to use to enhance your recommendations.

The data will be provided in advance of Highways UK so that teams can spend their time during Highways UK showcasing their findings in a dedicated space within PA Consulting’s Innovation Hub. And experts from O2, Highways England and PA will be able provide guidance before Highways UK as to areas that you might want to consider, brief you on the O2 data and highlight other potential data sources.

The Highways UK 2019 hackathon is not a competition – no judging, just a unique opportunity to showcase analytical capabilities. It also provides a ‘safe’ environment to explore working with different organisations, develop new contacts, look at new datasets and to inspire one another.

Please get in touch with me (roads@paconsulting.com) if you are interested or would like to know more.

Charlie Henderson is global head of roads at PA Consulting 

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You can’t do Big Data if you can’t do Small Data

You can’t do Big Data if you can’t do Small Data

Author: Brian Fitzpatrick – Brian Fitzpatrick, Founder, Fitzpatrick Advisory

Brian Fitzpatrick

The future of our infrastructure is digital, but just who is best placed to build the local authority capability to manage this revolution?

Who will look after the impact of decisions made by assets self-reporting their condition, and automatically informing investment priorities? Who is going to look out for the needs of our citizens as we enter the age of automated design, and algorithmic prioritisation?

Will we build that capability ourselves in our highways maintenance sector? Is that the right thing to do, or will we (whisper it quietly given the current environment) outsourcethis transformation?

For many highways authorities, using the software tools and data management platforms that can best process, analyse, translate and turn highways data into meaningful information is a mystical, expensive and time-consuming process, and they don’t have enough resources now.

The way data and information is collected, and used in day-to-day maintenance activity is inefficient in the first place, and rooted in historical ‘analogue’ practice eg inefficiencies arise from

 · different proprietary information systems and platforms in use which don’t talk to each other

a lack of standardisation of paper and computer processes and tools

· collecting the same condition data every year but only utilising a small percentage of it

· a fragmented value chain around the delivery of services

· poor information connectivity and flow, lots of activity duplication

· relatively immature data architecture in local government

· the consequential high cost of data collection and recollection

· limited analysis (and time for analysis) of data, to turn data into information, and from that gain insight to improve service and enable innovation

· little time for customer needs or priorities beyond making sure the road surface is fit

It doesn’t have to be that way but currently for many authorities it just is.

Big Data is the ability to connect and use all of the collected information ‘out there’to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions, and thus make better decisions around infrastructure investment and operations.

Big Data is going to be increasingly relevant to the way we plan, invest in, and manage our highways networks going forward as the number of sensors capturing, processing and reporting information grows, exponentially, in the next few years.

If local highways authorities alreadyhave at their disposal lots of other relevant data than just the inventory and condition available to them, but don’t use that properly, then what is the point of being able to collect more data if we can’t use it?

An additional concern is that although highways officers and service providers were amongst the ‘early adopters’ of digital technology, they now face being left behind as the world moves on and huge corporations are heavily investing in better understanding how data will be transmitted and harvestedfrom the infrastructure and asset platforms which local authorities currently maintain, which will lead to a natural interest in them owning or managing those networks.

I have no problem with who runs our networks, as long as they are managed properly and transparently. My concern is that by carrying on the way we are, highways authorities will miss out on the potential to themselves intelligently plan for and utilise ‘Big Data’ in the future, to the benefit of their local communities, and towns and cities. Or they will miss the right time to do it and we all then end up paying a hefty premium for a transformation to retro fit such capacity and capability.

Highways members, officers and infrastructure services providers need to ‘stay in the game’ and not be potentially marginalised. My question is if you can’t do Small Data efficiently and effectively now, how do you think you’ll be able to do Big Data in the future?

The revolution is coming, but getting it started in an equitable and transparent fashion, setting the ground rules for the way assets will be managed and our infrastructure maintained in the future, will need all of us, working together to define the way we want those decisions to be made.

Brian Fitzpatrick is founder of Fitzpatrick Advisory. He is speaking at Highways UK at the NEC on 6/7 November on achieving real change for the local highway network and overcoming the barriers that to date have limited reform

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Does your business have a digitalisation strategy?

Does your business have a digitalisation strategy?

Author: Stelous Rodoulis – Lead CIHT’s Technology & Innovation Panel, chair CIHT London

Stelous Rodoulis

‘Digitisation’ is the process of converting information from a physical format into a digital one. When this process is leveraged to improve business processes, it is called ‘digitalisation’. The results of this are known as digital transformation.

Different sectors of the transport industry are undergoing these processes at different paces as the whole industry shifts from delivering transport to delivering mobility.

In essence, the digital world is transforming a local authority’s vision and the services that it can provide.

CIHT would like to invite you to take part in a short online survey to explore the extent to which organisations have a digitisalisation strategy.

This research will have oversight from the CIHT Learned Society Technical and Strategy Board (LSTSB) and all responses will be confidential and non-attributable.

Council employees, contractors, partners and related industries are all being affected by the possibility of new opportunities and the threat – or perception of – becoming irrelevant.

As such, the pace and spread of digital change underscores the need for new, widespread, scalable and more creative initiatives to improve councils’ access to relevant digital and related ‘soft’ skills. This enables them to provide a better, more relevant and personalised service to residents.

The continually evolving digital journey begins with ‘digitisation’. Through the digitisation process, for example, physical records will be converted to digital assets by scanning and saving in a digital format.

An example of a digitisation process that is currently under way at many local authorities is where the paper record of a Traffic Management Order (TMO) is accessed, reviewed, plotted on specialised GIS software and a scanned copy of the original paper document (which is often several decades old) is attached to a digital record.

However, this is a static layer of information, stored locally and not shared efficiently either within or outside of the local authority. If someone wants this information, they need to contact the council and submit a request – a slow process.

Digitisation is not a means to an end; there is limited value in digitising if the newly created digital assets will remain in a siloed, offline database which only a few people can access. In addition, only limited value will come from flat scans of images or forms.

The scanning process should be intelligent enough to be able to leverage attribute data (into a common data environment), so it can be used to support wider and more effective organisational/stakeholder decisions and allow the organisation to achieve better outcomes and realise better value from their assets.

Otherwise the organisation might be investing in only moderate benefits.

Digitalisation is when you leverage digitisation to improve processes. One way of working towards digitalisation is to try to make it easier to share and disseminate the data held within a local authority’s Common Data Environment for the benefit of residents and local businesses – which also improves the authority’s accountability and transparency.

For example, the aforementioned TMOs once converted to a digital format create the opportunity to share and use this information among a wider selection of stakeholders.

These include freight companies, enforcement agencies, transport operators and those providing cycle hire, Mobility as a Service and on demand mobility providers including connected and autonomous vehicles.

Your insight is vital to the project and as a contributor you will have the opportunity to provide any comments on the initial draft of the report. If you have any questions about the research, please contact technical@ciht.org.uk 

Complete survey

Stelios Rodoulis works in the Digital Solutions Development Hub at Jacobs. He is chair of CIHT London and leads CIHT’s Technology & Innovation Panel. 

CIHT and its survey partners will be offering their analysis of the digitalisation survey results at Highways UK on 6/7 November

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Why language matters in the self-driving revolution

Why language matters in the self-driving revolution

Author: Daniel Ruiz – Chief Executive, Zenzic

Daniel Ruiz

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.

Daniel Ruiz is CEO of Zenzic

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Transport Technology Forum 2.0 hits the ground running

Transport Technology Forum 2.0 hits the ground running

Author: Darren Capes – ITS Policy Lead for the Department for Transport’s Traffic and Technology Division

Darren Capes

The TTF or Transport Technology Forum was relaunched on the 25March at an event in Central London. The Inaugural Forum meeting was attended by around 100 representatives of local authorities, central government, industry and academia with a common interest in the development of road technology. Attendees at the highly successful and stimulating event heard DfT explain details of the proposed organisation and operation of the TTF and had an opportunity to participate in its ongoing development.

The event introduced Arup as the new delivery partner for the TTF and Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation as the Forum’s independent chair. It set out the aims of the TTF to support those working in the road technology sector in public bodies, the private sector or academia, and through regular meetings and conferences provide a space for the exchange of ideas, support and guidance. By running a series of Technical Working Groups, the TTF will also provide enhanced support for existing initiatives such as UTMC and in new areas including data and C-ITS technology deployment.

The Forum does not have a membership and participation is open and free for all those involved in roads technology. The Forum will meet three times a year, twice for general forum meetings and once for the annual national conference. By attending Forum meetings, you will have a chance to hear about and influence the Action Plan, which is the programme of research and project work undertaken by Arup with DfT and Innovate UK (IUK) funding based on the needs and interests of the community.

Currently we are completing projects to develop training materials to support local authority skills in traffic signals UTC design and operation, and traffic signal optimisation guidance. These initial projects give a feel for the type of work the TTF will focus on in the future; small, targeted projects that offer support and guidance or in some way assist the roads technology community in working more efficiently and effectively, specifying and procuring more easily or addressing the challenges of new technologies.

The TTF was conceived around five years ago as a means of bringing procurers and suppliers together to develop and grow the adoption of new technologies by roads authorities, both to benefit the operation of transport in the UK and drive the development of the industry. It was envisaged that the TTF would become a subscription based organisation funded by and acting on behalf of its members. Experience showed this model was unlikely to succeed in a small market like roads technology and the likelihood was that the TTF would never reached its potential this way.

The need for the Forum has become widely understood and so it is being relaunched as a DfT and IUK funded entity. The benefits of this are clear as we move towards a world of increasingly complex and interconnected technology, where road vehicles will be at the very least connected to each other and most probably automate to some degree. The traditional role of highway authorities and the supply chain they depend on are changing and new technologies, skills and business models are required. The need for government to take a role in leading this is also clear, as it is through the highway authorities and technology suppliers that the aims described in the Industrial Strategy, Grand Challenges and Future of Mobility Urban Strategy will be realised. There is also a need to ensure that local authorities possess the skills and experience to make the most of what they have now in terms of road technology, meet growing expectations with limited resources and access funding where it is available.

DfT sees the TTF as a central part of meeting these challenges and has contracted Arup to deliver secretariat activities, TTF events organisation and project work. To ensure the TTF works for the wider roads technology community, its activities will be overseen by a Steering Group made up of DfT, IUK and representatives of the various sectors of the community. It will also be attended by the independent chair of the Forum, there to represent the interests of the wider Forum and Technical Working Groups. The Steering Group will also form links to others work in the sector including AESIN, (who represent the automotive electronics industry) and British Standards Institute, both of whom had representatives at the recent meeting. We will be expanding this and involving other bodies to widen the scope and experience of the TTF as we move forward.

TTF holds a contact list of those who have been involved in the Forum and DfT local transport initiatives in the past, so many of you will have seen news about the relaunched TTF already. If you have not, then please join our mailing list at www.ttf.uk.net. The TTF exists for all involved in roads technology and you are encouraged to participate!

Darren Capes is the ITS Policy Lead for the Traffic and Technology Division at the Department for Transport

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Invest today to deliver the highway infrastructure of tomorrow

Invest today to deliver the highway infrastructure of tomorrow

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

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Phil Clifton

Phil Clifton – Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business

Change is in the air for logistics

Change is in the air for logistics

Freight and logistics is a highly reactive industry which operates on tight profit margins, and as such is highly risk averse and resistant to change. However, the rising clean air agenda, with its revised focus on heavy goods vehicles as defined in the Government’s recent Road to Zero strategy, and the increasingly demanding consumer, are driving the industry towards rapid change.

Recent TRL research on ‘The Future of Freight’, and our ongoing industry engagement within the sector through both ECOStars (a fleet recognition scheme) and the Government’s Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial (LEFT), suggests that market forces will be highly formative in the sector. This could lead to changes in operational practices and the vehicles used to provide services.

The most dominant force likely to shape the industry over the coming years is the clean air agenda which is being imposed at the local level in the form of Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

The tight margins on which the freight and logistics industry operates makes it highly sensitive to economic change, therefore the charges introduced as part of CAZ being implemented within the UK’s most polluted cities will force operators to consider new cost-effective solutions.

In a similar fashion to the larger nation-wide bus operators, larger multi-national and national freight and logistics operators will likely redistribute vehicle fleets compliant with CAZ emissions standards (Euro VI and ultra-low emissions vehicle technologies) within CAZ cities; resulting in lesser performing vehicles being deployed to non-CAZ cities and the countryside.

Operators who are unable to stomach the costs of fleet upgrades and who are more risk averse to the purchase of new vehicle propulsion technologies will likely seek solutions such as urban consolidation centres whereby the final journey is made by the consolidation centre operator using electric vehicles which are well-suited to short-range deliveries within urban areas, thereby avoiding charges and maintaining business-as-usual. This model will probably result in a larger embedded delivery cost for consumers in CAZ cities, and shift the risks of cleaner vehicle investments onto other operators.

Whilst some operators will adapt to the new legislation there will be some for which the impact of the CAZ agenda will be too much; independent operators are likely to be the casualties of the clean air agenda. We have already witnessed a number of small operators electing to go out of business in anticipation of CAZ.

If this trend were to continue nationwide it is likely that the industry will take the form of fewer, large logistics operators providing a larger range of services over wider areas. Although controversial and anti-competitive, this may result in a more sustainable sector since the provision of greater and broader services by fewer companies would allow operators to consolidate shipping volumes into fewer (potentially cleaner) vehicles. This would have the combined effect of delivering emissions reductions and importantly reductions in traffic volumes which are threatening the capacity of urban networks, which in turn are hampering the economic development of urban areas.

The second most influential force shaping the freight and logistics industry is the notion of on-demand freight driven by customer demand. Such attitudes have forced the industry to adopt otherwise unsustainable operations which result in poor utilisation of lorries, and a growth in freight vehicles on the roads. Under-utilisation of the available load space within lorries is not a new issue and has been one which operators have sought to address, but have been unable to resolve effectively due to poor knowledge of where and when empty running miles will occur between operators.

New vehicle technologies such as connected and autonomous systems, provide a means to overcome this issue. In a world where all vehicles are tracked and monitored by networked devices it becomes possible to identify exactly where and when freight vehicles are going, along with the prospective space which will become available as its delivery round is completed.

Such visibility of space would enable an automated/autonomous system to dynamically reschedule a freight vehicle to make additional collections and deliveries along its route as and when new customer demand occurs. Such technological applications could reduce the number of vehicles required on the roads whilst also reducing the number of vehicle miles generated as a result of diverting vehicles within the vicinity of customer demand to make collections.

The combination of new vehicle propulsion technologies, and connected and autonomous technology applications, are enabling the freight and logistics industry to adapt and change to the increasingly demanding and environmentally conscious society of the future.

TRL is currently involved in research that includes HelmUK, the UK’s first HGV platooning trial which will see three articulated lorries equipped with automated following technology on the UK roads within the next two years; the Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial, which is trialling 19 low and zero emissions vehicle technologies nationwide including biomethane fuels, hydrogen-dual fuel and electric vehicle technologies; and a study of autonomous urban freight vehicles.

While the widescale adoption of such solutions may be somewhat distant, our work at TRL clearly demonstrates a strong willingness for the industry to adapt and evolve for the future into an industry potentially very different from the one we see today.

Gavin Bailey is Technical Lead and Business Development Manager for Transportation Sustainability & Operations at TRL. He is speaking on the future of freight from the Burges Salmon stage at 16.30 on 7 November

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Dr Gavin Bailey

Dr Gavin Bailey – Technical Lead, TRL

Enabling emerging transport technology and intelligent mobility

Enabling emerging transport technology and intelligent mobility

Embedded into the government’s industrial strategy and key to its implementation are four ‘grand challenges’ – artificial intelligence and data, ageing society, clean growth and the future of mobility. These reflect seismic global trends and meeting these challenges is crucial to putting the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.

In each case, the government has developed specific missions aimed at addressing aspects of these challenges but, across the board, they will require a true partnership between public and private sectors to tackle effectively.

This strong partnership approach is already being demonstrated in particular in the area of emerging transport technology and intelligent mobility. Here the private sector is working closely with academia and the public sector on innovative research projects under schemes established under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund or Innovate UK.

Developments in these areas are promising to deliver cleaner, safer, more integrated and more efficient transport. In doing so, transport and intelligent mobility can deliver the innovation, efficiency and productivity increases needed to drive the industrial strategy and cement the UK’s reputation for technology innovation.

They also promise to contribute much overall and individually to meeting the ‘grand challenges’. Ground-breaking work is being done on artificial intelligence and data on connected and automated vehicles and intelligent transport systems. Driverless cars, more responsive and integrated micro-transit services and better and faster connectivity will contribute to meeting the social and economic needs of an ageing society (both in work and out of work).

Electric vehicle deployment and research is accelerating developments in battery technology, smart grid management and hydrogen fuel cells promising cleaner air and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. And together they reflect a transformative vision of future mobility with new modes of travel, more intelligent transport systems, new ways of paying for and ‘consuming’ transport and a ‘mobility-as-a-service’ mindset.

With a strong background in the transport sector as well as complementary sectors such as energy, data and telecommunications, infrastructure and planning, Burges Salmon is proud to play an active and leading role in bringing new transport technology and intelligent mobility to market.  Legislation and regulation has a key enabling role supporting public acceptance and bringing new technologies and models to fruition.

Our involvement includes our active partnership in four driverless vehicle projects (VENTURER, FLOURISH, Capri and Robopilot) as well as leading electric vehicle and battery solutions projects. Seeing these technologies in action and up close only reinforces the view of their central role in meeting the grand challenges of the future.

Brian Wong is a director in the transport sector group at independent UK law firm Burges Salmon.

Burges Salmon’s new report, Perspectives on infrastructure: Delivering the Industrial Strategy, explores further how the public and private sectors need to collaborate effectively to deliver the government’s industrial strategy. Further information is available here.

A version of this article was previously published in Infrastructure Intelligence

Burges Salmon is a gold partner at Highways UK, which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, 7/8 November. Book your free place by clicking here

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong – Director, Burges Salmon

Taking a Human Factors Approach to Intelligent Mobility

Taking a Human Factors Approach to Intelligent Mobility

Intelligent Mobility – a silver bullet?

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

Footnotes

1 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812115

2 https://www.sustrans.org.uk/lockedout

3 Human Factors & Ergonomics in Practice: Improving System Performance and Human Well-Being in the Real World. Steven Shorrock & Claire Williams, CRC Press, 2017.

4 http://roadsafetyinsight.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2017/06/rsbs-report-2.1.pdf

5 (Dallat et al, 2017)

6 https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-top-ten-douglas-adams-sayings-8803770.html

Claire Williams will be talking further on human behaviours at Highways UK 2018.

See the iM Hub at: www.atkinsglobal.com/im and join the intelligent mobility discussion on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8382671

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Dr Claire Williams

Dr Claire Williams – Technical Director for intelligent mobility Atkins

Connecting new technologies with clients proves an impetus for investment and innovation

Connecting new technologies with clients proves an impetus for investment and innovation

Things are moving on very quickly for smart road system developer Valerann since the company’s proprietary technology was named overall winner of the 2017 Costain IIH Challenge, held at Highways UK last November.

The Challenge is the core component of the Costain-sponsored Intelligent Infrastructure Hub, set up by Highways UK to unlock and accelerate the uptake of innovative ideas that use intelligent infrastructure and associated transport technologies to solve the problems facing UK transport sector.

Since winning the award at last year’s Highways UK event, the joint Israeli-British company has secured many more investors for developing its technology and, according to co-founder and chief branding officer Michael Vardi, is now better able to engage with additional stakeholders in a bid to determine and deliver what they want: “Winning the IIH Challenge award meant a lot to us, mainly in giving us access to major industry players and allowing us to have conversations about what the product could do for them,” says Vardi.

“I’m packing now to go to Israel to see our first live deployment of our technology and will have over a week’s-worth of data for the Ayalon Highway [on the eastern border of central Tel Aviv], the country’s busiest motorway”. Vardi will be looking at what can be done with this data in a collaboration between Valerann and the private road operator.

And the future looks busy for Valerann here in the UK too, he says: “We’re hoping to showcase to Highways England a higher granularity of data in the UK and how it can help make roads safer and highways more efficient, as well as monitoring and supporting autonomous vehicles.”

Valerann’s technology uses sensor-rich intelligent road studs to collect information about traffic flow, safety risks and road surface conditions, from every point in a road. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to control centres and visually to drivers. In addition, by using cloud-based servers, Valerann can share traffic data with authorities and other road operators, and with navigation apps.

It was clearly a big hit with the 2017 IIH Challenge judges, appealing particularly to regional category judge James Golding-Graham, principal innovation and research officer at Oxfordshire County Council, for being “truly innovative”.

“We’ve seen solar powered illuminated studs before but I’ve never come across anything with the capability of the Valerann system,” he says. “Along with enriching the data-gathering capability of the highway, the key innovation for me is the system’s ability to integrate connectivity and connect CAV and standard vehicles; It can bring operational benefits now – and should provide a degree of future profiling for highways.”

Golding-Graham adds that he would like to see the technology deployed across regional transport body England’s Economic Heartland, in the not-too-distant future: “The engineering is clever in that once installed the ‘brain’ of the unit can be swapped out should technologies/requirements change quickly. The equipment is also quick to install and in comparison to other smart enabling technologies, low cost.”

Fellow judge Martin Tugwell, programme director for England’s Economic Heartland, says he was struck by how Valerann offers a solution that will enable highways to be digitally connected: “The ability to collect information and convey messages to users in the way that Valerann does creates opportunities to realise benefits for the economy, the environment and users.”

The EEH highway network is vital to supporting economic activity and delivery of planned growth, he adds, “making the most efficient use of our highway asset is therefore vital in our quest to improve economic productivity whilst improving information to drivers is key to helping improving the user experience”.

Paul Doney, director of innovation and continuous improvement at Highways England (HE) is also exploring the potential of Valerann’s smart road system. Highways England staff recently visited the Ayalon Highway project to see the smart studs in use. “It’s a long journey to landing technology,” says Doney, “but we’re on it and moving it forward which is really exciting.”

Commenting on the overall IIH experience Doney says Highways England was impressed by the range of different entries: “It was a new thing for us…we were taken by the buzz around the process.”

What is particularly exciting for Highways England, he adds, is what is happening now, post event: “We’re not just working with Valerann as the winners, we are now working with all the finalists… it’s given us an impetus to do more, we’re investing in them, and we’re really pleased to be doing so. The more we can do to encourage the uptake of innovation the better and the IIH is a great platform for doing that, we’re definitely fully behind it.”

As chair of the IIH steering group it is hugely gratifying to see the power of connecting new technologies with clients and how that can act as an impetus for investment and innovation. Valerann’s experience illustrates clearly the benefits of participating in the Highways UK Intelligent Infrastructure Hub challenge; look out for details of this year’s challenge event, which will be released in June.

Dr Daniel Ruiz is chief executive of Meridian Mobility Technology

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Dr Daniel Ruiz

Dr Daniel Ruiz – Chief Executive, Meridian Mobility Technology

Reaping the benefits of platooning trials

Reaping the benefits of platooning trials

The UK is planning to stage the world’s first ever real-world trial of heavy goods vehicles operating in a digitally linked platoon. This will involve specially adapted HGVs, connected through wireless technology so that the lead driver automatically controls the acceleration and braking for the ones behind. The tech is designed so that communication between the vehicles is instantaneous: when the lead vehicle brakes the following vehicles – two in this trial – instantly and safely brake by exactly the same amount, which means the lorries will be able to run much more closely together than would be safe in normal circumstances.

The benefits for safety and congestion are potentially significant, where automatic control could reduce unnecessary acceleration and braking, leading to a more efficient, safer use of the road.

To other road users ‘platoons’ will look like any other road freight, simply two more lorries in a line – although, the very observant might wonder why they are driving so closely together, but the benefits to the freight operator and other road users, are potentially huge.  When high-sided vehicles travel closely together nose to tail, the leading lorry airflow envelopes the ones behind in its slipstream, so all the vehicles, including the leading one use less fuel to maintain the same speed. This could result in a potential fuel saving in the region of 10%. It is not hard to imagine what an effective 10% drop in fuel price would mean to road hauliers. And furthermore, using less fuel directly reduces harmful exhaust emissions including CO2 and NOx.

Where there won’t be any savings is in drivers. Digital does not mean “driverless”. Each vehicle will always have a driver in the cab and each driver will be able to detach from the platoon at any time for any reason. Because the vehicles are not ‘locked in’ to the platoon mode there need be no problems in blocking other traffic from slip roads or negotiating obstacles such as road works.

We know that the technology works through off-road trials in the UK and elsewhere. What is unique in this trial is testing the idea in real world conditions carrying real freight under real commercial pressure. Before the platoons make it onto the roads, though, they will have to satisfy the Department for Transport and Highways England that they can safely negotiate any situation that is thrown at them. The software currently being developed in safety track trials anticipates everything from extreme weather to the need for sudden evasive manoeuvres and is programmed to react to every situation as an ideal human driver would – a human driver who never makes a mistake!

Once safety testing and trial design have been completed, the on-road trial will begin, managed by a consortium led by TRL, with commercial partners DHL, DAF and Ricardo who are supplying the technology enabled lorries to transport the goods. There are no foregone conclusions. Nothing like this has been done before and the research study will be rigorous in assessing social costs and risks as well as commercial and social benefits. One way or the other it will place the UK at the forefront of smart mobility technology.  And, if all goes well, it could be the start of a new era with independent commercial convoy fleets operating in the UK by the early 2020s. A dramatic change for road freight logistics but one which, hopefully, the rest of the road users will never really notice.

Richard Cuerden will be speaking in the Dynniq Dome on 9 November at 11:20am or find Richard and the rest of the TRL team at the TRL stand no. F10.

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Richard Cuerden

Richard Cuerden – TRL Academy Director