Dr Dimitrios Kaltakis, 5G and connectivity lead at WSP, outlines how network operators, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators must work together to achieve Vision Zero.
As digital connectivity becomes increasingly vital – not just for the smooth but for the safe operation of transport networks – access to 5G can benefit a huge range of stakeholders and end users.
Today transport is more than just travel – it connects people to each other, to jobs, to vital services and it’s essential for the logistics we all depend on every day. All this relies not just on physical assets such as roads, bridges, and train tracks, but on data and digital connectivity.
The role of data in improving transport is well established. For example, on the roads, monitoring the highways network using cameras helps operators respond quickly to incidents, provide information, and keep traffic flowing. On the railways, CCTV helps keep passengers safe, while smart card readers at station barriers make ticketing seamless. All these systems and others work by getting data from A to B, and that requires a whole ecosystem of connectivity which includes 5G networks.
On-site safety and efficiency
5G networks can enable Vision Zero and pave the way for increased efficiencies and optimised construction times. Imagine having ubiquitous access to complex 3D models on-site or being able to stream a live feed of as-built information directly into BIM systems. A 5G network can enable this, increasing collaboration, reducing time spent on site and driving efficiencies.
An advanced 5G network can improve site safety too through the use of real-time video analytics and highly accurate asset and personnel tracking – raising the alarm if someone is in a dangerous situation. The ultra-low latency of 5G also makes it possible to operate machinery remotely, paving the way for site automation.
Once construction is finished, all or part of the 5G network could be used during the operational phase. This is where the neutral-host network model comes in. The UK is leading the way in adopting this approach, which involves a third-party wholesale carrier setting up infrastructure and selling access to mobile operators and other partners. With 5G connectivity in place, people get internet access, new data-driven use cases open-up, and transport operators can generate a revenue stream which would enable them to reinvest into improving the quality and safety of the network.
Ultra-fast data processing/Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM)
To deliver the 5G benefits at scale, operators need to deploy Mobile Edge solutions which bring the end-user closer to the mobile core, thus realising ultra-low latency, ultra-fast data processing and hence the full potential of 5G.
Private networks, either 4G or 5G, can achieve this but with 5G, network slicing will make it even easier to prioritise certain users or uses, with operators able to assign guaranteed slices of the network. Even if a network goes down for everyone else, emergency services – for example, would still be able to use it. This provides economies of scale and opens up even more safety-critical use cases.
Cellular Vehicle to everything services (C-V2X) could for example be one network “slice” enabling:
Emergency hazard warning between autonomous and connected vehicles,
Improved adaptive and emergency breaking
Rapid download of HD mapping data
Realisation of Vehicle to Pedestrian safety services
Improved vehicle to infrastructure service performance for connected, semi and fully autonomous vehicles
Network of networks
Realising these benefits while at the same time meeting people’s need to be always connected, to have constant access to fast internet for work, information, and entertainment not only at home and but also on the move requires connectivity everywhere – even at hard-to-reach areas. Indeed, the UK Government aspires to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and is aiming for most of the population to have 5G coverage by 2030.
The advent of 5G is certainly an opportunity to connect both people and the systems on which our transport networks rely, wherever they are. But while there are no insurmountable technical barriers to doing so, making the most of the opportunity will require a new mindset.
Instead of relying solely on the traditional mobile network operators to bring coverage to an area, network operators/service providers, vehicle manufacturers, and road operators need to work together.
Ubiquitous connectivity enabled by 5G is the real changemaker here. For example, one can have low earth orbit (LEO) satellites complementing terrestrial public or private 5G networks providing secure and resilient PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) for advanced CAM services, such as collision avoidance, that require ultra-precise timing and location of vehicles.
A network of networks that allows anyone to be connected anywhere with a quality of service that meets their needs is the future. The first steps to realising this future have already begun with the rollout of 5G-SA core networks, trials involving the use of satellite 5G-technology and the acceleration of the delivery of nationwide gigabit-capable connectivity.
Thomas Leopoldseder, CEO of Q Point, unpacks the potential of digital solutions within the road construction process.
Through the digitalization of business processes, internally or together with business partners, decisive competitive advantages can be achieved – construction projects can be completed on time and with the highest quality and at the same time economically. There is additional potential for resource-saving road construction in the optimization of the overall process.
Many studies still show that the construction industry has a low level of digitization compared to other branches of industry. At the same time, the construction industry is characterized by an extreme price war and digitization would help to design processes in a cost-optimal manner, improve work results and increase quality. Diversified value-added areas, heterogeneous devices and system landscapes as well as area and project thinking that has been shaped over decades, coupled with a low willingness to change based on past successes, present the greatest challenges for the industry today. Digital solutions and the networking of data create a level of transparency in individual processes that is not always desirable. This transparency or, in other words, the project-wide and sometimes cross-project availability of data and information, is the basis for the new form of cooperation and thus the basis for relevant effects on resources, costs and emissions.
Today, processes, requirements and use of resources based on their specification, availability and costs are optimally calculated using intelligent process systems during the calculation and planning. The relevant information is available to all executors and those involved in a role-specific manner. Updates on the status and a comparison with the original plan are made available to all those involved in the implementation, regardless of location. This increases the planning and execution security for everyone and supports the resource-optimal use of people, machines, and materials.
Some examples of resource-saving work through digital process support:
Digital implementation planning leads to the optimal deployment and utilization of personnel, machines and materials.
Digital order management creates higher commitments and the basis for more efficient production and logistics planning
Optimized number and types of trucks for asphalt logistics reduce costs, cycles and emissions.
Dynamic adjustments during implementation always ensure the best possible project success.
Digital assistance systems for comprehensive compaction control (CCC) reduce the operating times of machines and personnel and lead to the highest quality.
The reduction of waste of resources and the simultaneous fight against the lack of skilled workers is made possible by the networking of people, systems and processes. With its solutions, Q Point creates the necessary connections for the intelligent road construction of the future. Achieving more together through effectively used transparency of the relevant data. This promotes trust and cooperation as the basis for more successful, less waste on the construction from which everyone benefits. This includes the entire value chain, from the client to contractors and subcontractors, as well as suppliers and consumers. Efficiency and sustainability through transparency lead to WIN-WIN-WIN.
Andy Fish, technical specialist for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division, looks at how to encourage innovation in a regulated market.
As someone who has sat on many standard setting committees and industry bodies, across several industries, I have often pondered why things are the way they are.
Standards play an important role in many industries; and in a market that is primarily focused on safety, they are critical. As such, standards set out to do many things, including providing a common description of product types, set minimum levels of performance, describe classes of useful performance, identify testing methods, and provide tools for the certification of products.
All the above are intended to ensure that the supplied product is suitable for purpose and enable the purchaser to make an informed decision based on a true comparison.
However, like all things, there are negative aspects to standards. While some of these are easily solved, others are not so straightforward.
Arguably the most challenging aspect is time. Standards take a long time to come to fruition, they are often many years in the making – and even small amendments can take an extraordinary length of time to be published. Meanwhile, many product manufacturers are improving their designs and finding new ways to improve performance with technology that did not exist when the underlying standard was first drafted. This lag ultimately means that the end user does not benefit for years, sometimes decades.
Sometimes standards are worded in such a way that they actively exclude new innovations by calling out a specific technology rather than a performance characteristic. As an example, the current standard for permanent traffic signs contains tables for the performance of retroreflective sheeting, one of which specifically refers to materials constructed with glass beaded reflectors. Specifying a technology in this way prevents new technologies being used. After all it should not matter how the material is constructed the end user probably does not care if it is made with glass beads or fairy dust. What matters is how it performs. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?
These things happen because people tend to think about what they know, the current state-of-the-art solution. To paraphrase Henry Ford, if you asked people what they wanted 100 or so years ago they would not have said “a car” they would have said “a faster horse that eats less hay” as this is what they knew at the time. The underlying need was to get from A to B, cheaply and quickly.
When authoring standards, we need to be focused on the purpose of the product and, most importantly, what that means to the end user, NOT what is currently possible with today’s technology, and NOT what the majority of manufacturers can make.
Of course, there are ways to accelerate the implementation of new technologies by conducting trials and creating test beds, for example, but this requires more cooperation from all parties.
Manufacturers need to clearly identify the benefits of their nascent technology and purchasers need to be clear on their needs alongside being more open to try something different that might just be more effective.
While we cannot predict the future, we can do much more to ensure that the consumer gets the best possible product by focusing on what the customer needs, not the industry’s current capability.
Mathew Haslam, managing director at Hardscape outlines their extensive product range with the UK’s largest selection of Connectivity Solutions Products.
Proudly independent and with over 25 years of expertise in pushing the boundaries of hard landscaping, Hardscape is driven by innovation and the ambition of providing environmentally conscious hard landscaping. Its latest range is integrated infrastructure design solutions which are used to create an improved health and wellbeing environment safe for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.
Our kerb range is available with different slopes, end styles, widths, depths, gradients, and radii which provide a practical purpose in both form and function, in a variety of colours in standard concrete, natural stone and Kellen Lavaro finishes.
Renowned for leading the way, bringing inspiration and innovation from around the globe, Hardscape provide Landscape Architects and Specifiers with unrivalled quality and function in a range of natural and man-made materials.
The Future of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.
2020 saw an unprecedented change in public behaviour in the UK, and throughout the world; in particular, during lockdown, the levels of walking and cycling increased and have remained high following the lifting of these restrictions. As a result, the UK government, influenced by the success of Dutch cycling, have fast tracked the statutory guidance, indicating local authorities should reallocate road space to accommodate significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, providing a safe way for all age groups to use healthier methods of transportation.
The extensive research, detailed specification, and implementation of Hardscape’s new range of ‘Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions’ is reflective of Hardscape’s DNA and its commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). Hardscape also see this as the natural next step in how external space designers, engineers and planners redesign landscapes with cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles in mind, creating an urban environment that all users can share space equitably and safely.
Paving the way with Dutch inspired policy and design.
Since the 1970s the Dutch have mastered creating a safer environment, inviting cycling and people to safely share existing travel infrastructure. For the Dutch to achieve this environmentally friendly connectivity strategy they have developed intelligent, logical, coherent kerb systems for actively segregating transport modes and methods.
Working with Dutch product solutions for over 20 years, Hardscape have the knowledge and distribution networks to now bring this innovative product range to the UK market.
Offering extensive options for every conceivable project, Hardscape’s new range bridges the gap between optimum design and attractive infrastructure spaces making them accessible for all.
“We are introducing these products to the UK with the support and impetus of the UK government’s wellbeing principles and directives. We hope to inspire the next generation of connected towns and cities that are brave in specification and designed to bring a long-lasting benefit for us all.” – Mathew Haslam- Managing Director, Hardscape.
Discover more about Hardscape’s Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions.
The breadth of material types, from natural stone, traditional concrete, and natural stone aggregate finishes strengthens Hardscape’s position as the principal paving provider for every application. Hardscape also offers a reduced carbon range of green paving solutions, with its CERO brand; CERO uses a geo-polymer material to replace concrete reducing carbon impact by up to 50%.
To discuss this dynamic and ever-expanding range of Inclusive Infrastructure Solutions products visit:
Ben Rawding from JCB stresses the importance of new technologies to tackle the labour shortages and attract new talent to the sector.
Today the highways teams within British local authorities face a number of challenges, and as an industry we must do more to support them. The work of a highways operative can often be physically challenging, dangerous and unappreciated. Consequently, we are facing a labour shortage, with a concerning trend towards an aging workforce. An unnamed authority has recently conducted a review to assess exact this – with resulting showing an average age of over 50 years for their highways operatives and a troubling level of absence.
If we hope to tackle the unprecedent backlog faced by our highways teams then we must provide them with the necessary tools to mechanise their repair processes and attract new youthful labour into the many open vacancies. The so called ‘PlayStation generation’ will simply not accept roles if they are expected to risk their personal health, through unnecessary manual handling or risk Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. This cannot be understated as exposure to hand arm vibration (HAV) can lead to a combination of neurological (nerve), vascular (circulation) and musculoskeletal symptoms, collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The Health and Safety Executive have identified HAVS as one of the basic health and safety mistakes crippling British industry. This avoidable risk is something we must eliminate; plastering over the issue with vibration monitoring wrist watches is simply not the answer.
British manufacturers such as JCB have recognised this significant issue and feel the burden of being one of the true engineering giants left in this nation. As a result, the PotholePro was born – an innovation driven by JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford. He tasked the finest engineers within the business to address this ever-growing issue. Since launch in 2021, the PotholePro has been supporting local authorities across the UK by mechanising their repair process, eliminating all HAVS risk and attracting a new generation of talent into the highways industry. Operatives have gone from using jack hammers / circular saws to instead repairing the defects from a zero vibration cabin – the heated air suspension seat has also helped!
It must not be forgotten that HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. A similar story can be said with unnecessary operatives placed unprotected in a live carriageway. If the preparation of the defect can be completely by a machine, without the operator having to leave the comfort of their cab – then this significantly reduces the risks involved. This is not a move to remove the requirement for labour, but instead diversify the tasks and methodology. The individuals who would previously be working on defect preparation, now focus on reinstatement – attempting to keep pace with the machine leading the process line.
As a result, local authorities have reported that operative job satisfaction has improved as they no longer have to carry cumbersome jack hammers, lift large pieces of spoil surface into their truck. Both of these processes, along with the planning, is undertaken with a single machine. To aid this, they have upskilled their operatives to drive the PotholePro, supported by free of charge training from JCB that includes the full CPCS qualification. The remaining operatives focus on reinstatement – to which they have commented is the “satisfying” element.
Whether it is a PotholePro or alternative machinery, it is essential that we mechanise the highways repair processes, providing an up-skilled labour force with the necessary tools to fix more defects in a safer, economical, and permanent manner. Analysis from authorities such as Stoke-on-Trent City Council has demonstrated that mechanisation can transform the whole highways department. They have repaired over 7-years’ worth of defects in just 12 months. Not only have they repaired significantly more defects, but they have drastically lowered their cost per defect as a result. The workforce is more motivated as the machine has ‘picked up the slack’. In fact, one of their operatives has been using jack hammers for 30 years but has been converted to using the PotholePro. Furthermore, the new work methods have changed the perception of the team and as a result, they are able to attract a younger generation of operatives into their department.
Brooke Wood from dDB Communications emphasises the need for investment in wireless communications to improve roadworker safety.
Every day and night, over 3,000 highways engineers work across the UK’s 670-mile network of motorways and A-roads to keep our roads safe and moving.
However, they are faced with multiple hazards that cause around 20 serious injuries every year (according to DfT figures), and many more moderate injuries.
According to the latest statistics from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) 2019/2020 figures, the number of injuries in construction (including highways engineering) is increasing. Construction is now the third most dangerous industry in the UK, with fatal injury being four times higher compared to all other industries.
Almost half of the fatal injuries to workers over the last five years were accounted for by just two different accident types – falls from a height and being struck by a moving vehicle (both big risks in highways engineering).
The unique challenge in roadworks safety
Although much is being done to improve site safety, highways construction remains immensely challenging. There’s all manner of heavy machinery and equipment in constant motion, often in restrictive areas. If you add in pedestrian traffic and night working, highways engineering and maintenance presents with some unique challenges.
The risk for non-authorised or planned vehicles entering the work site and injuring workers is far greater than in any other industry. In fact, National Highways reported that there were almost 6,500 incidents of vehicle incursions on roadworks sites between October 2017 and October 2020 – 175 per month.
Looking at the total number of road maintenance workers killed or seriously injured whilst at work on the road network, in Great Britain (since 2010), there’s been a steady year-on-year increase according to the DfT figures. In a Freedom of Information request made on 10 March 2020, the DfT confirmed that between 2010 and 2018, there had been 10 roadworkers fatally injured and 76 seriously injured.
Beyond improving pedestrian driver awareness, roadworker safety, and onsite guidance, what more can be done?
Learning from railway engineering
Improvements to highways worker safety could be made by replicating similar wireless communications solutions seen in railway engineering.
In 2011, Network Rail mandated that all rail construction workers use duplex wireless systems to improve communications and worker safety.
If you are wondering what duplex wireless systems are, the best way to explain their use is by comparing them to back-to-back radios.
Back-to-back radios, while fantastic pieces of equipment, have limited use in high-traffic, high noise environments since only one person can talk at a time and everyone is forced to listen. If an incident were to occur away from the person talking, until they stopped transmitting, no one else can be advised of a potential hazard or threat. Duplex communications resolve this problem by allowing multiple users to talk and listen at the same time.
Some duplex systems, allow up to 16 users to communicate at the same time with headsets that are adapted for each roadworker’s task. For example, one engineer may require maximum situational awareness where their colleague may require hearing protection with closed ear domes.
Offering an uninterrupted wireless range of up to 100 metres for two-users and 500 metres for three or more users, duplex wireless systems are ideal for:
Improving efficiency between trades (to get the job done quicker)
Managing onsite traffic
As with railway engineering, highways engineers have the additional issue of transmission blind spots. This could be due to any number of things. It could be a tunnel, a corner or a long distance. Duplex wireless systems can offer a solution as they can be adapted to meet these challenges.
Likewise, back-to-back radios, which integrate with duplex wireless systems, can be extended by using the mobile phone architecture, with ranges of up to 30 miles.
Controlling unauthorised vehicles
Using wireless radio frequency (RF) technology, worksite entrance points can also be monitored, with workers instantly alerted to any intrusion, whether a vehicle or a person. If an intrusion occurs, an alarm sounds within the roadworker’s headset and enables them to respond in line with site guidance.
Where do you start with improving onsite communications?
There are hundreds of applications for wireless communications in highways engineering. The best piece of advice though, is to speak directly with the manufacturer who should explore your communication challenge before recommending the most practical solution.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Steve Birdsall, CEO of Gaist, provider of roadscape insight and intelligence services, explains the very real possibility of a revolution in road safety
In the past decade, the role of data within the built environment has changed dramatically. An explosion in the information available to infrastructure asset owners and operators, the emergence of technologies and digital processes such as BIM and digital twins and advances in analytics, have transformed how we understand the world around us.
For those managing and interacting with our roads, this data revolution is starting to unlock benefits including optimising network performance, driving efficiencies and – critically – improving safety.
The richer the level of information and insights available to roads decision-makers, the greater the depth of analysis, the better informed they are and the better positioned they are to respond to defects and challenges on the network.
This data is not just becoming available to the decision maker. Road users will soon be able to access real-time information about the condition of roads.
Advancing road safety Today, a new development is set to further deepen our understanding of the network and facilitate a huge step forward in road safety.
Data captured from sensors within regular passenger vehicles can now be used to provide on-the-ground ‘live’ detail about road friction, road roughness, temperature, and surface defects.
As an example of how this data could be used, the implications for the winter-market particularly are huge. Decision making by Winter Duty Managers over when and how to treat the network has traditionally been based on Road Weather Information Systems, which though time tested, have well documented limitations.
But armed with this next-level of dynamic data – combined with other reliable data sources such as radar and satellite images – those responsible for managing our roads networks and keeping them open and safe during the winter period will be far better informed and empowered to predict and plan their interventions.
Take gritting routes. With this rich data, our knowledgeable and experienced winter service managers will have at their disposal far greater detail of how gritting routes are responding to treatment and how drivers are experiencing travelling on those gritted routes.
Fed into a winter service strategy and used to combine with and complement other winter specific features, this information can be deployed not just in one season but to drive continual improvement for future years.
This will provide evidence to quickly respond to key questions such as what parts of the network should we treat? when should we treat them? and what treatments should be carried out?
So how does it work? The real time datasets consist of a combination of tyre-road friction readings, ambient temperature and windscreen wiper speeds from passenger vehicles traversing the road network. This is then used to create a set of map layers to give winter maintenance professionals access to a level of detailed information with which to inform their decisions.
The readings are all mapped using GPS and timestamped and are never the result of data from one vehicle – there is an established minimum threshold of vehicles from which data is drawn.
The real-time dynamic datasets will be accessible for the first time to local authorities and networks from Safecote, a Gaist partner, through its BM Roads System.
Advancing our mission At Gaist, we have always been laser-focused on our mission to provide the deepest and richest possible intelligence about our roads to support critical areas including the safety of the network. With this latest development, we are proud to continue to honour that commitment.
Steve Birdsall will further explore how vehicle sensor technology is transforming asset managers’ approach to road safety at Highways UK, which is running at the NEC on 3/4 November. Other contributors to the session include Björn Zachrisson from Nira Dynamics in Sweden and Paul Boss, Chief Executive of Road Surface Treatments Association. For more information on Highways UK, including how to book your free exhibition and conference pass, go to https://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/highways-uk/index.stm
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.
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.
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.
Author: Tony Gosling – Chief Digital Officer, Pell Frischmann
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.
Author: Karla Wakeman, Innovation Lead for Connected Transport, Innovate UK
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 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.
Author: Lesley Waud – Transport Design Development Director, SNC-Lavalin Atkins
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.
Author: John Batten – Global Cities Director, Arcadis
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.
Author: Charlie Henderson – Global Head of Roads, PA Consulting
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.
Author: Brian Fitzpatrick – Brian Fitzpatrick, Founder, Fitzpatrick Advisory
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
Author: Stelous Rodoulis – Lead CIHT’s Technology & Innovation Panel, chair CIHT London
‘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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Author: Darren Capes – ITS Policy Lead for the Department for Transport’s Traffic and Technology Division
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