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Digitising Temporary Traffic Management

Modernising and de-carbonising our sector

Between April 2020 and March 2025, the UK government will spend £24bn to improve and modernise our Strategic Road Network (second Road Investment Strategy – RIS2)1. Part of this is a strong commitment to reduce carbon emissions and support the government’s ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The roadworks associated with this ambitious programme will require effective temporary traffic management (TTM) to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely, and deliver a positive road user experience during the works. In research carried out by Transport Focus2 in August 2021, road users ranked better management of roadworks as a top three priority.

The UK prides itself as a world leader in the field of TTM and has consistently improved working methods to reduce risk to both road workers and road users. As an example, the elimination of live carriageway crossings for workers to deploy temporary signs has saved 3.7 million crossings per year, preventing potential harm to road workers and road users.

Despite these advances in working methods, the actual equipment used to create temporary working environments (namely cones, barriers and fixed plate signage) is nearly identical to that used over 20 years ago. This is in stark contrast to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) which has become progressively smart with the addition of sensors and overhead gantry mounted variable message signs (VMS). This progress is helping to create the infrastructure of the future which can respond to changes in conditions and optimise journeys as well as accommodate more advanced forms of transport such as connected and autonomous vehicles.

The Situation

In its current form, TTM significantly downgrades road user experience and the ability for connected and autonomous vehicles to operate in this environment.

This is due to the following:

  • Messaging and signage at temporary work sites are typically not dynamic and hence do not allow optimisation of traffic flows (i.e. variable speed). With increasing calls to run traffic at 60mph this increases risk to road workers during peak site activity, breakdown recovery personnel and road users during incidents
  • Temporary traffic management equipment such as cones and signs are easier to displace than permanent infrastructure creating potential hazards impacting on road user and road worker safety
  • Provision of road works information is subject to manual call-in processes which are not real-time, and are subject to change and human error. This can lead to misinformation, poor communication, delays and ultimately dissatisfied road users

Current best practice in England requires the inspection of all TTM every 2-4 hours. This necessitates a large number of vehicle movements and mileage which is costly, carbon intensive and inherently risky.
On a single large Type A scheme, mandatory inspections could equate to over 260,000 miles travelled per annum with a carbon footprint in excess of 100,000 kg, just to visually inspect signs and cones.

The Future is here today

The technology is available to transform the industry and bring temporary traffic management into the 21st century. Companies like UK-based HRS are bringing this to life with a range of digitally-enabled products and services.
It has developed the technology to provide real-time information on roadworks deployments which can be linked to network occupancy systems and directly to third party mapping/mobility solutions systems provided by companies such as Google, TomTom and HERE.
This technology creates a digital twin for each work zone to deliver targeted safety alerts, automated remote monitoring of safety critical assets, real-time information of works deployments and dynamic speed management. The digital twin is produced by creating a geozone that corresponds with the works area.

This provides several significant opportunities:

  • Cost effectively digitising safety critical assets using Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices
  • Automating flow of information directly from site to decision makers and stakeholders
  • Monitoring and controlling safety critical assets remotely.

This provides the following major benefits:

  • Remote condition monitoring of temporary signs and cone barriers to reduce visual inspection requirements and improve response time to incidents
  • Accurate reporting and time stamping to allow better decision making and create incident hot spot maps
  • Automation of the communication around network occupancy management, leading to better information getting to road users quicker to improve journey times and experience.

For more information please download the case study or call us on +44 (0) 800 206 13 19

Running at 60mph where possible can save UK PLC £160,000 per day on a typical scheme.