Author: Alistair Hunter – Director for Infrastructure Advisory, Arup
Five years from now, low emission vehicles – predominantly electric vehicles (EVs) – will be transforming the streets of our cities… but only if these new vehicles have somewhere to charge. How can cities, infrastructure owners and transport authorities make joined-up decisions around EV charging infrastructure to reap the benefits of low emission vehicles?
The right location
Cities are densely populated. Owners of EVs won’t have driveways in which to charge their cars, and will need lots of public charge points – whether during the journey or at the destination. Applying our modelling and analysis to one UK city, we’ve estimated it needs to expand its existing charging network by 500% in the next five years to help it meet its aspirations for a cleaner, lower-carbon future. Across the world, from LA to New Delhi, every city faces this problem. So, where should these charge points be located?
Let the data speak
If everyone is to benefit from the coming EV revolution, city authorities urgently need to lead a collaborative effort to install the right number of charging points in the right places. A data-driven collaboration between different city bodies and stakeholders – transport authorities, regeneration teams and energy distribution network operators – will enable municipalities and local authorities to implement an EV charging network that works for everyone.
City authorities already have access to data on socio-economic factors such as the types of housing in different areas, and to transport data that plots the origins and destinations of people’s journeys. Combining this data in a detailed model can provide a picture of how many charging points are needed, the types required for the likely mix of vehicles, the benefits that could be derived from charge points in different locations and the likely demands on the energy network.
We’ve created a detailed model that combines socio-economic, housing, transport data, with EV adoption rates and vehicle performance data. These data points are brought together in a proprietary demand model to provide a detailed picture of EV charging demand through the day, across an entire city. This allows us to test different scenarios and create masterplans integrating EV charging demand, with charge point placement and grid capacity.
Don’t leave it to the market
Taking a network-wide approach is vital. Municipalities and city authorities could leave installing chargers entirely up to commercial charging companies. This is too important to leave to the market alone, or indeed to any single body. It’s not clear that the market will ensure a cross section of society has access to charging – firms could potentially cherry pick the most profitable locations. It’s also doubtful the market would investigate how electric buses (which Arup is studying for a city in the UK), could share their charging infrastructure with private cars.
Charging infrastructure has implications for issues like air quality, decarbonisation and more broadly a city’s reputation, everyone needs to be involved. Ideally, this means local government creating an EV masterplan focused on achieving the widest-ranging benefits and supported by the whole community.
Preparing for plug in
* Charging infrastructure is key to EV take-up and needs to support different road users with different behaviours.
* On-street charging in residential areas will not happen at pace or scale. People without off-street parking need destination and en-route charging to convince them to use EVs.
* City authorities need to take a leading role in creating a joined-up plan for installing EV charge points, otherwise coverage will be patchy. And they urgently need a lot more charge points.
* Modelling combines city data to help define the optimum number, type and location of charge points.
Alistair Hunter is a Director for Infrastructure Advisory at Arup. Alistair will be exploring these themes further as part of the Cities session in the Main Theatre on 7 November
Author: Jon Cole, Head of Pavement Efficiency and Productivity, Highways England
Our pavement efficiency journey started with a workshop in September 2015 in recognition that the way we delivered pavement needed to contribute significantly to the RIS1 capital efficiency KPI (target £1.2BN). Representatives from our Operations Directorate and our supply chain were present, and this set the context and agenda for how the Pavement Efficiency Group or PEG, as it affectionately became known, would work to challenge both Highways England and the supply chain to recognise efficiency opportunities through the delivery of pavement works.
Our story is one of technical excellence and true collaboration with the supply chain to enable pavement efficiencies across the different delivery programmes of Highways England; and, to align their goals to the safety, customer and delivery imperatives of Highway England.
As a delivery team we’ve tried to think of this as a change programme, we always knew that the technical side was only part of what we had to deliver; engaging with delivery teams, and especially designers, to buy in to what we were proposing was the challenge. We’ve occasionally found it difficult to get passed traditional ways of thinking and this has shaped our engagement, making it simple, visual and impactful so our messages were clear and connected to the overall objective of achieving the challenge of KPI7.
We’ve created technical content in an engaging way through digital integration that forms the basis of our engagement approach and we have embraced different media to share our message and ideas across the entire pavement delivery community. We’ve used lean tools to help our outward facing engagement and planning and adopted simple, visual and engaging content that is easy to understand and implement. Our single source of content is hosted in Prezi and can be accessed by anyone; it is live and periodically reviewed and updated.
Our pavement efficiency levers have been tailored to align with the definition of an efficiency in the Efficiency and Inflation Monitoring Manual which governs our work and we have developed 37 levers that can be used either in isolation or in combination depending on the project or delivery function. Working jointly with SES from an early stage was key to the long-term success of PEG, to ensure that they were supportive of what we were promoting. As a result, we structured the project with our lead technical expertise partnered with SES gaining their strategic alignment.
To promote the levers, the team has embedded itself in the various efficiency meetings around the country, and across all delivery programmes, gaining a unique insight into the different challenges of individual projects and programmes; actively sharing knowledge across them. This had led to cross programme learning and the adoption of several efficiency levers in different programmes.
The pavement efficiency technical partner has engaged directly with over 50 delivery teams across Major Projects and Operations programmes. Part of our engagement is to discover best practice and we’ve taken the best practice from Operations and shared it with Major Projects and vice versa whilst adding these ideas to our toolkit.
To date £352m pavement efficiencies have been level 2 assured with a further c£70m awaiting assurance. These efficiencies are evidenced through project level efficiency registers and validated by the Central Efficiency Group. In exceeding the challenging target of £350m in this RIS period, positions our team well to continue sharing best practices in pavement delivery to also continue meeting the efficiency targets of future Road Investment periods, having created a legacy of continuous improvement.
Jon Cole, Head of Pavement Efficiency and Productivity, Highways England
Jon along with James Burdall, Associate Director of AECOM, will explore some of the technical innovations achieved through PEG within the Civils and Materials Dome at 16.30 on 6 November. Additionally Jon will address the process of achieving a step change, at the Burges Salmon stage at 13.30 on 7 November
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: Richard Bowen, Highways Stakeholder and Public Liaison Manager, Mott MacDonald
As Highways England builds on strong foundations as a construction-led organisation, focusing on the needs and satisfaction of its customers, their supply chain partners are also being asked to make customers a priority in all the design and build work they undertake. It’s clear that a customer revolution is underway at Highways England.
Its Customer imperative has come to the fore and improving customer satisfaction is a priority. Broadly defining customers as road users and communities located close to the Strategic Road Network, Highways England has committed to firm customer principles. Their ambition is to improve customer satisfaction across a range of areas, including improving journey time reliability, displaying better road signage and addressing customer frustrations caused by roadworks.
Each year Highways England reviews their customers’ priorities to ensure they are addressing common frustrations. The expectation is that supply chain partners will align themselves by developing and implementing design and build solutions to actively target the sources of customer complaints.
It’s a tough ask of a supply chain that is deeply rooted in an engineering culture guided by practical design standards and building regulations. Highways England is asking searching questions of supply chain applicants, such as how they will adapt their cultures so that customer requirements are part of everything they do. It’s turned things upside down and forced their supply chain to look both outwards and inwards at activities that haven’t changed or been questioned in a generation.
As suppliers to Highways England, Mott MacDonald has had to consider how we have worked previously and how we can transform our culture successfully to provide highways solutions and services that are not just buildable and provide value for money, but also contribute directly towards improved customer satisfaction. It is also about helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by embedding them into our activities, such as supporting economic growth and improved competitiveness across all regions (goal 8) and delivering resilient infrastructure and innovative solutions to maximise value from public investment (goal 9).
We started by considering how we engage effectively with Highways England customers to gain a breadth of insight that is representative of road users and communities. Always more difficult to engage effectively with road users, a notoriously itinerant and time-constrained customer group, targeted communications channels and messages are needed to be successful! Rarely a one size fits all methodology, each campaign requires creative thinking to be employed.
A recent Mott MacDonald campaign made use of Highways England’s Twitter feed and eye-catching graphics to capture the attention of drivers in Kent. When we analysed the feedback, we were pleased to see that 80% of the responses were received online, largely from customers that identified themselves primarily as road users. We were provided with insights that are very different from the viewpoints often heard at local community events.
While it’s incredibly helpful to gain customer insights that represent a broader range of interests, we need to ensure that those viewpoints are validated by more influential stakeholder groups. By discussing insights with the likes of local authorities, local politicians and community groups, we can establish understanding and develop effective relationships through which a highways scheme can be more easily progressed.
This is the point at which we need to look at the other side of the coin. To ensure validated customer insights can be incorporated into scheme designs and builds, as a supply chain we need to focus inwards. Nobody’s suggesting there’s a reason to rip up the existing rulebooks, but we can design and build better roads by embedding validated customer insights into design and construction. Positive design interventions involving safety are long established within our industry and we need to think the same way about customers during planning and delivery stages.
How we manage roadworks is a good example. Consistently cited by customers as a main source of frustration, we can improve customers’ experiences of roadworks through joined-up thinking and innovation. If insights tell us that a traffic management solution will be unpopular with customers, we aim to work together to provide a more acceptable alternative. Where options are limited, we can work smarter to explain the need for roadworks to customers, to provide clear information, and to highlight the benefits that will be realised for road users and communities once the works are completed.
Customers are the lifeblood of the highways sector. Yet too often they have remained hidden in plain sight. By adopting opportunities, including technology advances that provide us with abilities to develop customer centric solutions, we have a catalyst to develop and mature an industry-wide customer culture that impacts positively on customer satisfaction. Highways England is leading the way, their supply chain must follow.
Richard Bowen is the Highways Stakeholder and Public Liaison Manager at Mott MacDonald
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 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.
Author: Neil Williams – Engineering & Infrastructure Segment Manger, Leica Geosystems
Despite the current political uncertainty, we are seeing record investment from Highways England channelled through initiatives such as the Regional Development Partnership frameworks and the Smart Motorways Programme.
This investment is vital because our strategic roads network is one of the most valuable national assets we have. It is fundamental to economic growth.
The problem we face is that major projects are notoriously risky, complex, costly and high-profile. Experience tells us they are prone to exceeding budget and are broadly, extremely challenging to deliver. What compounds this outlook is that more than four million people rely on the Highways England strategic road network every day and that figure is set to rise by 40% from now to 2040.
Attempting to deliver this ambitious pipeline of work without refreshing our approach to construction will create major impacts across the country. Major projects will continue to be known as challenging, costly and ultimately, risky investments. This will mean that future investment will come into question and potentially put the country behind.
As a manufacturer looking at the industry, we are seeing wonderful pockets of innovation that are beginning to overcome the well-versed challenges facing major projects. Whether that is by streamlining workflows, increasing the ability to share accurate data between different teams or driving collaboration across multiple stakeholders.
At Highways UK this year we will be hosting the people and the organisations who are overcoming these challenges. You will hear from Skanska’s Survey Manager Mark Lawton presenting connected construction and smart paving. We will also be joined by Severn Partnership’s Managing Director Rollo Rigby highlighting mobile mapping on the A38 and Getmapping’s Business Manager Neil Rennie showcasing motorway surveys on the M20.
Join them, hear their story and understand their approach on stand B60. Follow @LeicaGeo_UKI on Twitter for the latest timetable updates.
You’ll find our full programme of events at Leica Geosystems’ stand within the exhibitor events listings
Neil Williams is Engineering & Infrastructure Segment Manger at Leica Geosystems
Author: Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director, FTA
As the voice of the UK logistics industry, in the last quarter alone, FTA’s team met with 150 civil servants, regulators and elected officials. Since the logistics industry plays such a vital role in the UK economy – contributing £124 billion gross value added (GVA) – it is important that planners, government and decision makers have a thorough understanding of the sector. However, FTA is faced with commonly held views about freight that are simply not true. These misconceptions can lead to proposals and decisions based on false assumptions; here are the five most common.
Myth one: “It’s dirty HGVs that cause our air quality problem.”
The reality: Unlike diesel cars, lorries have worked to an on-road test since the start of 2014. These Euro VI engines have reduced air quality emissions from the tailpipe by 80-90%, according to roadside tests by the likes of Transport for London. This is on top of already substantial improvements from when the logistics industry started working on this problem in the early 1990s. These efforts are partly why UK air quality is improving year on year and has been for some time.
Myth two: “There are loads of lorries running around empty or half full – if we just had consolidation we’d need far fewer trucks.”
The reality: Logistics is highly incentivised to load as optimally as possible. The UK already has one of the most efficient freight systems of any developed country, with lower empty-running than the EU average (lower, too, than the supposedly more efficient Germany). Many operations could never take a return-trip load (such as tankers delivering to petrol stations), and it is the reality of our society that we import in or make goods across the country that then need taking into our towns and cities to be consumed – meaning there will always be an imbalance in the movement of goods.
Myth three: “Online shopping means our towns and cities are now clogged up with vans.”
The reality: Only a minority of vans are actually used to carry freight. An RAC Foundation report in 2014 found the most common use for vans was for carrying equipment; only just over a quarter of van mileage was for the delivery or collection of goods. Only one in 10 vans on the road are parcel vans, and in London it is estimated that vans servicing online shopping orders account for just 1.5% of traffic. This may have changed a little as online shopping has grown, but the broad picture will remain the same.
Myth four: “We could just do urban logistics by bike or e-cargo bike.”
The reality: We move 2.5 million tonnes of goods into our towns and cities everyday by HGV. Ultra-light logistics like e-cargo bikes are great and can help in particular places (like pedestrianised high streets, public squares serving blocks of flats) but they won’t make a dent in the tonnage we actually need to move, which means they can’t help much on congestion, emissions or safety matters. One medium-sized HGV can do the work of 10 vans, one van can do the work of 10 e-cargo bikes – we need to use the right vehicle for the right journey or we will clog up our streets far more.
Myth five: “Rail is an out-of-date method for freight and we should give its space on the railways to more passenger services.”
The reality: Weirdly, this notion was put forward by the former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis. A major growth area that the UK needs to deal with is containerised traffic from our deep-sea ports and, as they are uniform in size and originate from one set point, these movements are well suited to rail. Each freight train can take 70 HGVs off our motorways and provide a carbon saving of up to 76% on that one movement, so good for other road users and the environment.
However, for rail freight to thrive, it needs road transport to provide last mile access. One of rail freight’s biggest challenges is the net difference in product payload between road transport alone and a combined road/rail approach. FTA is supporting the ’48 tonnes for 48 miles’ campaign by Malcolm Logistics. Just by allowing an increase in tonnes for 48 miles around a rail terminal, it is estimated the resulting annual net reduction in road transport would be in excess of 70 million gross tonne miles.
The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy. Decision makers must be in a position to make fully informed choices about the future of freight. FTA will continue to help government to do so by dispelling these common misconceptions. To learn more about FTA’s campaign work, please visit https://fta.co.uk/campaigns
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.
Elizabeth de Jong is speaking at Highways UK, which is at the NEC, Birmingham on 6/7 November.
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.
Please get in touch with me (email@example.com) if you are interested or would like to know more.
Charlie Henderson is global head of roads at PA Consulting
Author: Adam Crossley – Adam Crossley, head of environment and strategy, Skanska UK
Even if you are not a big advocate of fighting climate change you can’t help but notice how it is increasingly on the agenda everywhere – whether it’s protests in Parliament, the Prime Minister committing the UK to net-zero emissions by 2050, or the latest David Attenborough documentary.
This is a serious challenge. And it is not going away. What does it mean for the highways sector? If done right, it could make the sector more attractive to road users and future talent while making it more efficient.
Let’s start with understanding how the sector contributes to climate change, which it does significantly, and how each emission source can be de-carbonised to zero.
Firstly, there is the traffic. Everything from family cars to heavy haulage, and all those petrol and diesel emissions. This is going to be de-carbonised by wholesale take-up of electric and hydrogen transport over the next two decades. Throw in the advance of autonomous vehicle technology along with the need for new electric and hydrogen charging infrastructure and we could have an entirely new network, along with entirely new safety and customer service challenges. At Skanska, we just installed 67 charging points at our UK head office, enabling more new electric vehicles on the network, and that is just what we are doing. But everyone in the sector has a part to play in how the network will change.
Secondly, there is road building and maintenance, and everything that goes with it. Construction stuff. At Skanska that is what we do. Making roads, building bridges, maintaining the network. That’s a lot of material and a lot of plant and equipment. There are three primary sources of emissions from doing that. There are emissions from electricity we use for fabricating steel, producing cement, using power tools, powering a depot, and so on. There are chemical emissions from the cement binding process itself. And then there are all the construction and maintenance vehicles we use, generating petrol and diesel emissions.
So how do we tackle all that?
Some of it will be tackled at source. Over time, the UK will de-carbonise electricity production, so whatever we use will be carbon free. The steel and cement industry will develop commercially viable carbon capture solutions, like one in development at Drax power station, which suck carbon out of the air before it gets into the atmosphere. And eventually there won’t be diesel dumpers and petrol vans, vehicles will all be electric and hydrogen.
But for the highways sector to adapt to the challenge of climate change we cannot wait for other industries to do the job for us. We need to set a vision for a sector net-zero target which the entire highways supply chain can support. And we need to map out how we can drive carbon reductions at a faster rate and use carbon as a different way to reduce costs while increasing innovation.
How can we use fewer materials by designing more efficiently? How can we accelerate bringing electric and hydrogen vehicles into our own fleets? How can we collaborate with innovators to speed up the uptake of zero carbon transport technology? How can we use new construction techniques, like off-site manufacture? How can we understand carbon with better data, and target opportunities where we can reduce carbon and cost at the same time?
It all starts with a target that the sector can invest in achieving. At Skanska we have committed to operating with net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, and that includes all emissions from the materials we use and the supply chain working with us. We have mapped out the detail of how we think that will happen, so we know where to invest and what to focus on. And, crucially, our supply chain know they are part of it and need to collaborate with us.
Imagine if there were a highways net-zero target and the major players used it to incentivise collaboration and innovation across the supply chain. How many more talented people would want to join our sector to help? How many more innovations would be uncovered to transform the way we work? How much more efficient and productive could we be?
And, how much quicker could the UK’s highways be world-leading examples of a digitally enabled zero carbon network?
Adam Crossley, head of environment and strategy at Skanska UK
Skanska is Highways UK’s sustainability partner and sponsor of the Sustainability Theatre at Highways UK on 6/7 November. It is also collaborating with Highways UK to help us make the event more sustainable. We understand that this is not an immediate ‘fix’ and we will have to progressively change not only our own, but importantly also the behaviours of our supply chain, clients and visitors. We’ll be telling you more on that later, but in the meantime, you’ll find more information on our approach including our sustainability policy and strategy here
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
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
Author: Daniel Ruiz – Chief Executive, Zenzic
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
Well-planned infrastructure has the power to transform the economy and generate new opportunities for all. Improved connectivity enables job creation, increases productivity, supports much-needed home building and helps individuals realise their potential. However, in order to achieve the desired outcomes, infrastructure investment must be made at strategic level. Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) are uniquely positioned to work in partnership with Government to realise our shared ambition of enabling businesses and communities to prosper. We can do this by developing a long-term transport infrastructure plan for the UK.
Transport for the North, Midlands Connect, Transport for the South East and England’s Economic Heartland are each developing long-term strategies that are underpinned by a dedication to improving quality of life across England. As economic regions, we share a collaborative, evidence-based approach to transport investment, bringing together an unprecedented coalition led by local authorities and business leaders. We complement the work of local and national transport authorities, providing the leadership that enables strategic infrastructure requirements to be developed and delivered faster. Our partnerships achieve much more by working together than would ever be possible in isolation. STBs themselves are also working together, across regional borders, to maximise the benefits of each other’s plans and the national schemes that support us all.
This close collaboration between STBs was evidenced in March 2018 when we issued a joint response to the government’s consultation on the Major Road Network (MRN). Six recommendations were presented to the Department for Transport, calling for an integral role in the definition and implementation of the MRN and the significant funding pipeline that it requires. Specifically, we called for the local authority roads of the MRN to be taken forward with Highways England’s Strategic Road Network as a single investment programme, to ensure maximum return on investment.
Regional expertise must continue to be utilised to streamline and accelerate the planning processes. We must make sure transport planning, investment and delivery respond to and anticipate the fast-evolving 21stcentury demands being placed on the network. To do this we will invest in developing detailed proposals that create a clear investment pipeline. We will work with Government to prioritise the public sector investment available.
The National Infrastructure Commission, in its national assessment in July 2018, acknowledged STBs’ important role in developing and delivering national infrastructure programmes and making sure they integrate with local and regional schemes. Industry is listening too. In August 2018, the CBI’s Driving Delivery report on regional infrastructure called on the government to formalise STB powers, strengthen our role in strategic decision making, and expand the model to other parts of the country.
We must champion the role transport investment has in delivering sustainable and inclusive growth. STBs help bring people and jobs closer together, accelerating social mobility and opening up our labour markets more widely, while always considering the environmental impact. And, as “the future of mobility” becomes clearer, we must influence and harness the power of pioneering new technologies that are quickly revolutionising how we all move around.
There’s still a long way to go. Transport for the North is the only STB with statutory powers and, although ministers and peers are supportive of establishing more, we must continue to promote the benefits of our work and collaboration across the country. During a period of unprecedented economic uncertainty, STBs play a vital role in identifying and delivering a long-term pipeline of infrastructure investment that can give businesses the confidence and certainty they need to invest and grow.
The ultimate prize is much bigger than less congested roads and faster, more frequent train services. STBs are about creating a transport system that is user-focused, responsive, and enables the UK to compete in global markets. Together we will make life better for people and businesses, rebalancing the UK economy and turning our regions into exciting places to grow and thrive for generations to come.
Barry White, Chief Executive, Transport for the North
Maria Machancoses, Director, Midlands Connect
Martin Tugwell, Programme Director, England’s Economic Heartland
Rupert Clubb, Chief Officer, Transport for the South East
- The four STB chief officers are jointly presenting in the main theatre at Highways UK on 7 November. The STBs are also running the English Regions Hub within Highways UK, which includes briefings across the two days on both their individual and collective priorities.
Barry White, Maria Machancoses, Rupert Clubb and Martin Tugwell – Chief Officers of England’s STBs write…
Funding cuts and a lack of investment in the local road network have resulted in the well documented highways network decline and maintenance backlog we face today.
With short-term election cycles obstacles to long-term planning, making the case to elected members for asset renewal programmes has never been more challenging.
Highways authorities are therefore being required to embrace new technology and find increasingly innovative ways to emphasise the importance of maintaining resilient networks to help form accurate and cost-effective asset management plans.
Adopting an end-to-end approach to asset management-led network renewal is often the key to making a successful case for a programme. Here are some of the underlying components:
Understanding social impacts
For local authorities to secure support from politicians for new investment, it is critical that they begin to consider the socio-economic impact and outcomes of their assets. This includes demonstrating value and providing better customer and end-user outcomes.
A few years ago, Tarmac worked with Blackpool Council to help it make the case for significant investment to deliver a major renewal programme. Using condition data mapped against a social impact matrix, elected members were able to see the state of key roads within their wards and the likely social and economic outcomes of a failing road near a school, hospital and the offices of a major employer, for example.
By showing how a well-maintained network was essential to supporting the council’s goal of delivering better social outcomes for its citizens, the case for funding was successfully made.
Driving data analysis
Data collection, digitally mapping assets and robust analyses can also be key to securing renewal programme investment.
Councils need to work with partners who can provide an accurate idea of target costs, as well as an understanding of materials that could be employed to ensure durable and cost-effective treatments for highways networks.
Having improved knowledge of an asset generates opportunities to make evidence-based decisions. This helps with day-to-day maintenance but also with long-term planning for the delivery of resilient and durable programmes.
Automated paving is an innovative technology that can help inform client asset management plans. Sensors on paving and compaction equipment capture and record information about the quality of the installation during surfacing projects harvested from the construction process, from the type and temperature of materials used to the ambient weather conditions.
Once completed, the system matches GPS location data to generate an electronic construction and compaction record specific for each load.
The dataset is then mapped and accessible via software for analysis, providing a permanent record for the project and potentially significant opportunities for highways asset management.
An end-to-end approach
At Tarmac we believe that it is important to provide local authorities with an end-to-end approach to asset renewal.
Our programme, delivered in collaboration with highways data specialist, Gaist, and civil engineering consultancy specialising in asset management, Metis, includes providing comprehensive highways condition reports, data collection with advanced analysis and management support in developing a preventative maintenance model to combat network decline. It also provides guidance about the most appropriate forms of bespoke surfacing treatment.
Highways authorities are undoubtedly facing a perfect storm of network decline, reduced public funding, increased scrutiny and a need to embed greater resilience into our road networks. But hese factors mean that asset management-led renewal programmes are now not only critical but present great opportunities too.
Peter Hyde is highways services director at Tarmac
Tarmac is sponsoring the Materials and Maintenance Dome at Highways UK. The Materials and Maintenance Dome is one of the thirteen content streams running in parallel across the free-to-attend two-day event.
Peter Hyde – Highways Services Director, Tarmac
It is widely acknowledged that the UK will face mounting economic, environmental, and social problems if the nation’s infrastructure fails to meet present and future demands. Government estimates propose that almost £500 billion is required to bridge the infrastructure funding gap.
As part of the response to this challenge, the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) was established to provide expert advice to the government on the pressing infrastructure issues including ways to close the funding gap. The findings of its first National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA), issued in July, are being debated within the context of both London and at a national level.
The report gives a snapshot of some of our most important infrastructure needs. Its seven recommendations set out a pathway for the UK’s economic infrastructure;
· Nationwide full fibre broadband by 2033
· Half of the UK’s power provided by renewables by 2030
· Three-quarters of plastic packaging recycled by 2030
· Allocating £43 billion of stable, long-term transport funding for regional cities
· Preparing for 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030
· Ensuring resilience to extreme drought
· A national standard of flood resilience for all communities by 2050
These goals are ambitious, but they reflect the infrastructure challenges that are already evident every day. During this summer alone, there was a proliferation of headlines related to infrastructure strain and failures. Media stories included ‘recycling fraud’, where plastics recycled by citizens are sent to landfill. Extensive road congestion and unreliable rail networks frequently filled commuter bulletins. And the hottest period in the UK for decades, was accompanied by water restrictions imposed across the country.
Private capital is an essential part of the solution
The NIA recommendations to improve delivery are ambitious, and they’re expensive. But the report stresses that these things are not “an unaffordable wish list”. The goals are designed to fit within the government’s long-term funding guidelines for public investment in infrastructure. Last month (August) new figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed the UK government spent £18.9bn on infrastructure projects in 2016, and more than 85% of that was on transport infrastructure.
That said, the state simply can’t finance all these changes and advancements alone. Developers are calling for greater access to private funding, and the government wants this, too. In the next few years, the government’s own National Infrastructure Plan states private capital should fund at least half of the cost of a £483 billion infrastructure pipeline to 2021.
At the same time, there are trillions of dollars of private capital, both foreign and domestic, searching for a home. There is $120 trillion under management in global pension funds alone. Yet despite infrastructure being critical to the growth and economic health of any country, the OECD estimates that only a tiny percentage of this cash, just 1.6%, is invested in global infrastructure.
The NIC agrees that “financing itself is not in short supply. However, state financing institutions can help to encourage private investment and catalyse activity.”
It seems that everybody wants the same thing. The government needs to drive more private cash into infrastructure projects and private investors wish to invest. So why isn’t it happening?
Plans, commissions, reviews and assessments are all critical to working out what needs to be done. But if the government is to attract private investment, it now needs to turn these visions into action.
Meanwhile, as we wait for the government to respond to the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA), here are some ideas for moving forward.
Six steps to bridging the UK infrastructure investment gap
1. Don’t just say you want private capital: vigorously promote UK infrastructure
Private investors are not necessarily infrastructure experts, nor connected and well-versed in the unique features of the UK infrastructure sector. For investors new to the UK, there is scant information available on the country’s infrastructure project pipeline: just 220 words on the government’s capital investment page.
New types of projects are emerging which will need financing in the near future. For example, one NIA recommendation is that government should encourage commercial investors to finance a nationwide electric vehicle charge point network. It’s an exciting investment opportunity which didn’t exist a few years ago.
Such infrastructure projects die, however, without government support and attention. Vocal government endorsement of infrastructure as a sector full of investment opportunities is vital. There are exceptions of course, the proposed Heathrow Southern Rail link for example, is an opportunity identified by the private sector that will be privately financed, including, investment in part from AECOM. This will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private-sector companies – to invest in the rail network, alongside the £47 billion the government is planning to spend over the next five years.
2. Provide the data the private sector needs to invest with confidence
A common criticism of infrastructure investment is that it is risky and unpredictable. Toll roads don’t always perform as expected; construction timelines overrun; project costs can run far higher than forecast. Collecting and making readily available accurate, up-to-date data on the costs and performance of UK infrastructure projects makes for better decision making and builds trust in the sector as a place to house capital.
Providing private investors with data matters because they need to be presented with fully-formed, fleshed-out investment opportunities. Investors want to know that they’re committing to projects, programmes and assets with characteristics that are already well understood. ROI is king.
Investors will not be prepared to rely on estimates and old information when assessing the costs and benefits of projects. Providing data on the financial performance and costs of UK infrastructure assets gives private investors the ability to predict and project long-term revenue streams.
The government needs to improve communication between the public and private sector and ramp up data collection to access capital providers that previously wouldn’t have been knowledgeable and confident enough to invest.
This is about taking a pragmatic, data-and-results-led approach to offering investment opportunities to the private sector. The opportunity is for government and the private sector to engage at the design stage, so that investors have the opportunity for early input into a project and that both parties can share data.
3. Be open to creating and attracting new financing structures and institutions
The government can further attract private investment by establishing programmes and institutions dedicated to infrastructure finance. One such example is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank established to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. Another vehicle is value capture. Often used around new transportation hubs, this is where infrastructure investment enhances land values so that transportation and city landowners can draw benefit from their investment for future spending including on schools, housing and public space.
The need for new ways to mobilise private capital is even more pressing as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. The EU’s European Investment Bank has worked for decades to bring private capital into infrastructure projects – but the UK’s membership of the bank could end post-Brexit. The NIA suggests a dedicated UK infrastructure finance institution needs to be created if this happens.
We already have evidence that government is capable of this kind of work. In the renewable energy sector, the Green Investment Group was originated by the state in 2012. It is now owned by private bank Macquarie, the world’s largest infrastructure asset manager, and has invested £3.4 billion into UK clean energy projects. It’s an example of how the government has the ability to create infrastructure-supporting schemes and institutions which can ultimately be handed over to and financed by the private sector.
The private sector can also provide the ideas. Indeed, it is well placed to innovate and leverage lessons from elsewhere as we have indicated with the Heathrow Southern Rail link mentioned in point 1 above. One recent positive step in encouraging private sector ideas is the UK Government’s introduction of a ‘market-led proposals’ (MLPs) initiative. Essentially, this is a mechanism that provides a route for the private sector to propose infrastructure enhancement projects. The first submissions for rail projects were made this summer. Industry needs those ideas to be rapidly appraised by government, and shortlisted for suitability to proceed. The MLP process is a first test of how attractive the government can make investment in the railways, making it clear that it is open for business and collaboration with the private sector.
4. Matchmake investors with the most suitable stage of an infrastructure project for them
When developing projects, the government needs to investigate which private investors could potentially lend to a project, and crucially, at what stage.
From banks to funds, pension providers to individual businesses, private sources of capital come in many forms. Each will have a different risk appetite and investment timeline. Market appropriate projects to private investors at the right time and at the right stage for their requirements, and the chances of them deciding to invest should increase. This requires the government and private sector to agree on a common aim that will satisfy governmental need and private sector aspiration on return from investments.
For example, the risk appetite of an international pension fund new to investing in UK infrastructure will be very different from that of a dedicated infrastructure fund listed on the London Stock Exchange. A pension fund will want steady, predictable, long-dated returns to match its liabilities – the kind of returns that can be generated by infrastructure which is already operational and performing well. Meanwhile, a listed fund, already familiar with the market, will likely have a far higher tolerance for uncertainty – they may be willing to invest at the riskier construction phase of a project, in exchange for higher returns.
5. Uncouple infrastructure from party politics
Political bias is an issue which has stunted the growth of the sector for decades. The National Infrastructure Commission was set up, in its own words, ‘to address the lack of a long-term infrastructure strategy, soiled decision making in infrastructure sectors, fragile political consensus and short terms.’
There is clearly a need to foster communication between the public and private sectors, beyond party politics. Each has something to offer the other: the government can present state-backed infrastructure projects in which to invest, and the private sector can find a home for the capital it needs to deploy. A win-win situation where much-needed infrastructure gets delivered free from huge expense to the tax payer.
If the private investment community is being asked to make long-term, multi-billion dollar or pound investments, the government needs to offer long-term guarantees and protection to these potential investors in return.
Positive change is underway: the government is already attempting to move rail enhancement investment out of its standard five-year cycle, and similar approaches can be applied to other types of infrastructure too. The process for assessing rail enhancement investment is the same whether publicly or privately funded: the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP). This is a strong statement that both forms of funding will be assessed equally.
6. Speak louder about the public benefits of infrastructure investment
We’ve already touched on the lack of information available to the private investment community on the benefits of infrastructure spending, and the same issue exists for the public. Getting citizens to support infrastructure investment is essential to getting projects off the ground, particularly in the UK, where projects are frequently blocked or slowed by local opposition. Public consultation on infrastructure schemes is complex and detailed. It takes time for members of the public to assess a project. That tends to mean retired people look more closely. A typical project timeline means they see no benefit – only impact. That generates opposition. The real beneficiaries of infrastructure – the young generation – are often less engaged in the consultations. There is a challenge to improve the engagement of the citizens who will see little impact, and yet will realise all the benefits.
The government could do more to promote the positives of new and improved infrastructure as a path to economic growth, community cohesion and a better standard of living for large numbers of people. Time and again we have seen that infrastructure investment unlocks other investment, particularly housing. Developers cannot deliver large-scale community projects (whole new towns for example) without strategic investment in transport, utilities and community infrastructure.
The government should also include and recognise citizens as vital contributors to the solutions. One of the NIA’s key recommendations is to ramp up materials and food waste recycling: it will be essential for the public as well as industry to drive this.
Essentially, any major public and private spending on infrastructure needs to be explained in terms of the way it will help people live better, and drive economic and social growth.
While there’s plenty of private money seeking investment opportunities, the infrastructure sector will need to step up to make projects more attractive, help build project certainty and promote the benefits of new networks and services to investors and the public. For further information visit AECOM.com
David Barwell is AECOM’s CEO for UK and Ireland. David is speaking in the Finding Funding session at Highways UK on 7 November which will address how to get more private sector finance into the UK’s roads
David Barwell – Chief Executive, UK and Ireland, AECOM
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
3 Human Factors & Ergonomics in Practice: Improving System Performance and Human Well-Being in the Real World. Steven Shorrock & Claire Williams, CRC Press, 2017.
5 (Dallat et al, 2017)
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
Dr Claire Williams – Technical Director for intelligent mobility Atkins
Talking Heads template
This is an incredible time to work in the UK highways sector. Across the country organisations are investing at record levels in innovative approaches to ensure the nation’s roads networks meet the demands of a growing travelling public.
But we know that we can do better. Just as the way that we build and maintain roads now is very different to the way we did things 10 years ago, so we know that there will be as much or more change in our future.
We want safer roads
We want more efficient delivery
We want delighted customers to value the network
We know that we can achieve this most effectively where the industry works together to identify the changes that it wants to make, that it needs to make.
So we see Highways UK as a brilliant opportunity to bring the industry together to discuss what our priorities should be.
Through our Change Infrastructure: Highwaysevent, we are looking to invite our customers, contractors, supply chain and stakeholders to join us at Highways UK.
We want to know what you see as the biggest challenges for the sector. But we want more than that. We also want you to tell us what you think the industry could do to respond to these challenges.
Over the course of a morning we will ask a diverse panel of presenters to put forward the challenges that they see for the sector, and the solutions that they think would work to resolve these problems.
We will then open it up to the industry to decide which challenge is most important, with a free vote to all Highways UK delegates.
Over the course of the next year we will then bring together the best people from across the industry to not just talk about the issue, but to put in the place the real change, creating a positive legacy for the sector that we will bring back to Highways UK in 2019.
Right now we are looking for people from across the industry who have a challenge that they would like to put to delegates at Highways UK. If you think that you have something, we hope that you will get in touch by emailing email@example.com– and should your challenge be selected, CECA will provide support to help you prepare a short 5-10 minute presentation to deliver at the event.
So if you think you have an idea about how we can break new ground in digitising the industry; a suggestion of how we can secure the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce; a proposal for new ways of building roads mode effectively; a way of recruiting a diverse new workforce; or any other idea that can revolutionise our sector, please do get in touch.
We look forward to seeing you in November, as we set off on a mission to change the industry.
Alasdair Reisner is chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Alasdair Reisner – Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association
I doubt that I will encounter a time without roads in my lifetime. Some view it as a goal, some that it is a fantasy and some that it just will not happen. Whatever the future there is one constant and that is change.
Consider what has happened in your lifetime in terms of telephone, computers and cars, even the kitchen tap can provide boiling water at a turn. All these “developments” have come about through innovation and somebody or groups of bodies having an idea, a concept, something that just might work even though it is different. On a daily basis we are bombarded with information on the latest regarding smart technology in the world of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles together with the application of “big data” to inform and assist.
As yet, and I would venture to suggest for the foreseeable future, we are not travelling everywhere off the ground on hover boards and vehicles so we need transport corridors and these we know as roads. We have seen developments over the years around materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of roads. The part we all drive on is but one part, albeit an important and key part, of the whole.
The highway industry must emulate other industries and continually evolve through innovation and change for the better. When did Google or Dyson stop innovating and developing the next generation of their products? Our industry must do the same and have that look forward as the future is demanding; the only thing we can do with the past is enjoy the memories and learn from it.
The highway construction and maintenance business in the UK is wide ranging and large given that the national asset is worth around some £700-800 billion. We must ensure it has a future and continually develop ways to protect the investment for the generations to come. What legacy will any of us leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren regarding the highway infrastructure?
It is absolutely essential that we take the opportunity through the use of innovative materials, components and processes to reap many benefits in the construction and maintenance of the UK highway infrastructure ranging from improved durability, efficiency and sustainability to enhanced safety, comfort and reliability for all users. Industry has a long track record of delivering innovative solutions to both current and anticipated needs through the actions of individual organisations and in collaboration with clients.
That is exactly why the Mineral Products Association is working with Highways UK on the Materials Innovation Hub, which will form a major new component to the 2018 Highways UK at the NEC on 7/8 November. This is an opportunity for all concerned with the highway industry to showcase their innovation whatever it may be. The Materials Innovation Hub is looking to unravel, learn and encourage from the industry those innovations that are able to offer solutions to real world highway client challenges in the here and now together with the future.
I chair the Materials Innovation Hub steering committee and we are now looking for innovative ideas in the materials, components and processes used during the construction and maintenance of UK highways projects. The MIH is competition based and organised in categories covering efficiency of pavement materials; infrastructure and structures around the pavement; on the pavement; safety; and future highways. Short-listed entries invited to present at Highways UK in front of a panel of expert judges using a “dragon’s den” style format.
Stephen Child is Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group, ADEPT and also Chair of the Materials Innovations Hub steering committee
You will find more information at www.highways-uk.com
To enter the competition use the form here
For further information email Richie Stubbs
Stephen Child – Stephen Child, Chair of ADEPT’s Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group
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
Dr Daniel Ruiz – Chief Executive, Meridian Mobility Technology
After two decades of nearly uninterrupted growth, rail travel in the South East fell by over 4% in 2016. This is at a time when the population of the region is booming with London alone set to reach 10 million by 2030, according to some estimates. Many theories have been put forward to explain this surprising – almost paradoxical – turn of events, from poor service and infrastructure driving commuters back to their cars to rising costs making the commute unaffordable for service workers. There is sure to be some truth in all of these explanations – changes like this usually have complex multi-faceted causes – but there is one aspect that has been more or less overlooked and which perhaps offers cause for a little more optimism: the rise of the super-commuter.
What distinguishes the super-commuter from the common or garden variety is the willingness and ability to use new technologies to adapt their journeys quickly to changing circumstances, untied from a single mode, free from the straight jacket of the season ticket! The super-commuter knows which route works best, when and where to park their car to switch mode to get to their destination faster.
This new species of traveller is not exclusively made up of young technophiles excited by the latest iPhone or Android. The stresses of congestion, infrastructure failure and underinvestment on key networks are driving a growing number of commuters of all ages to look for the edge that can be found in the right app. They are to be seen all over but, as so often, the South East leads the way.
Transport pressures in the South East are greater than anywhere else in the UK and the region’s commuters are quick to embrace any innovation that can get them to their destination faster. Just look at the Boris bike, widely derided at its inception but leading to a 300% increase in cycling in the capital and now a busy eco-system of competing bike share schemes in other towns and cities.
The adaptability of the super-commuter, without any significant support or investment at a policy level, is a powerful demonstration of the opportunities offered by decentralization and the adoption of flexible inter-modal habits that should give us hope.
But it is not enough to simply stand back and expect the problem to take care of itself. The infrastructure really is creaking and the population rise is not slowing down. For large parts of the region, new roads and rail are not a practical option, and even widening and improving are too costly and time consuming in much of the South East to be of much use in the short to medium term. We simply have to do better with what we have and the super-commuters are giving us a big clue as to how we can go about it.
The question that needs to be asked now, is: how can we as a sector take a lead in exploiting the huge potential of new technologies coupled with the willingness of travellers in the South East to adopt and adapt to create a system that supports rather than resists the patterns of use that are naturally emerging?
Part of the answer to that question is already at out finger tips. A huge amount of real-time data is generated every minute across London and the South East as travellers pass through ticket barriers, undock a shared bike, or pay a toll; data that is gold to software engineers and app developers. The problem is we are mostly just sitting on it. The rallying cry of the internet revolution has been ‘information wants to be free!’ And yet everywhere around us we find data in chains. What if it was let loose to be mined by the army of small start-ups and digital entrepreneurs that are busy transforming just about every other aspect of modern life?
The sorts of technologies that would emerge from free access cannot be predicted in detail. That is the point. But it is easy to imagine an app that could plan and re-plan a journey from bus, to bike, tube and train, car (driverless or otherwise) and even air, that responds to real-time, near instant updates on personal travel plans, GPS location, live passenger flows, congestion and other disruptions and redirects the user to the transport that gets them to their destination in the most convenient and time-efficient way possible.
That would mean significant efficiency gains from existing infrastructure with minimal investment or disruption. But if we want to maximise the potential of such an approach for the future, we need to be integrating it from the beginning, at the planning stage. That would demand a change in mindset across the sector of course. We would need to think in terms of a regional ‘transport offering’ instead of thinking of modes in competition with each other. That sort of change can be uncomfortable, but what are the alternatives?
We have heard this sort of thing before, of course, the war against ‘silos’ has been a long and not always glorious one, but we are at a point when it is becoming obvious that something has decisively changed and we need an emphatic response.
It will require a culture shift at the Department for Transport and across industry to break down some of these silo walls, but it can happen. At CPC we have long experience of helping organisations like TfL and Highways England innovate in bringing public agencies and private contractors together to solve challenges with dramatic results visible to anyone using their debit card to travel by tube or taking a car journey using a smart motorway.
Nowhere has more to gain from this way of thinking than the South East. The pressures are greater but so too are the opportunities. At the moment, we are playing catch up with a changing scene that we have not done nearly enough to understand. It is time to take the lead.
Giles Henday has for over 30 years led high profile transport and tech contracts for both the public and private sector; contact him if you share his passion for harnessing the opportunities emerging from new tech.
- Transport for the South East’s Connecting the South East event takes place in Farnborough on 8 May includes senior speakers from DfT, Highways England, Network Rail and others. Harnessing the opportunities from new tech is the central theme of the “tech area” at this year’s Highways UK at the NEC on 7/8 November. It comprises the Intelligent Infrastructure Hub (sponsored by Costain) and the Technology Dome (sponsored by PA Consulting), which combine to create one of the event’s main focal points. Contact Andrew.Dowding@Highways-UK.com for opportunities to get involved in either event.
Giles Henday – Partner, CPC