Designing for the future

 

A global innovation programme from WSP has highlighted radical engineering actions needed to cope with ongoing demographic, social and environmental changes.

As part of its business research, the engineering experts have discovered a number of key trends and raised concerns about existing engineering design standards.

The broad themes were outlined at Traffex Scotland this year by David Symons (pictured), who is leading WSP’s global Future Ready programme.

The why of travel

”Local

One primary issue is the very nature of our movements. The UK public are travelling fewer miles per person and for different reasons.

From 2002 to 2017 the distance for business fell by 27%, and the distance for shopping fell by 19%. The distance we travel to visit friends dropped 15%; however the distance for holidays went up by 13%, as did education (8%) and other, including a walk (32%).

The social landscape

With people travelling less, spending more time at home and doing more shopping online, the local area might become more important – here the concern is that we are living more isolated, lonely lives. The average UK resident only knows the names of three of neighbours with people in large flat developments likely to know even fewer.

‘The number of names of people you know [in your neighbourhood] is directly correlated to the traffic flow in your street. It might sound counterintuitive, but when you think about it it’s pretty obvious. You wouldn’t let your kids play on a roaring dual carriageway,’ Mr Symons said.

‘Loneliness is an important trend,’ Mr Symons argued suggesting that more people-centred streets rather than car focused places was something we should look into.

As long as we have our health

Another issue that relates to this is the growing interest in health and wellbeing. After analysing Google searches over the last five years, Mr Symons identified health as a steadily growing search term.

‘The interest in health is also really important in terms of air quality. It wasn’t an issue a few years - ago, it is now - and why active travel is more important than it was. This is a changing feature. That is why we need to be designing different things.’

Mental health as well as physical has also become a much greater focus, and could also lead to a different style of local place.

‘The stats that stand out for us is that mental health disabilities have gone up 80% in the last five years. So has memory and learning disabilities,’ Mr Symons said.

”Local

‘We are just starting research with some future ready landscape work about how we design streetscapes that make it easier for people with memory issues to get around - for instance using colour coding for instance rather than signs, providing enough signage. Also providing quiet spots in stations so that if you suffer from autism that is not overwhelming. One in 10 people suffer from mental disabilities in the UK.’

Electric, tunnels, and water - a difficult climate 

Aligned to air quality and climate change is the switch to electric vehicles, which as well as needing major infrastructure of their own, also require a rethink to future structures.

'Our research suggests the car after the next car you buy will mostly likely be an electric car. That’s not far out. We will see by 2025/26 a very fast uptake in electric vehicles. 

‘By the time something like the Stonehenge tunnel is open many more vehicles driving through them will be electric so that has two implications – firstly the ventilation strategy can be completely different because we are not venting petrol or diesel fumes, so let’s design for that rather than the current DMRB [Design Manual for Roads and Bridges].

‘The other thing is fire risk. If an electric vehicle has a fire it is a much higher burn temperature and for longer. Therefore from a fire perspective we have to design to a different risk assessment.’

The direct impact of climate change is also a key consideration, particularly water management.

‘Right now we are looking at upgrading significant infrastructure and thinking about how we are going to get rid of the water that could fall 30 to 40% more heavily. We have had two 1 in 100 year floods in northern England in the past 10 years. We have to design for it.’

Mr Symons ended by calling for action form engineers and commissioners: ‘Engineering teams are absolutely part of the solution. And from a commissioning point of view, we need a purposeful brief rather than just assuming that it is the engineer and the code that will deliver a future road scheme. Without that we generally get what we have in the past and that is not ready for the future.’

A key test of this procurement will be the transformation towards a zero carbon construction industry, as its carbon footprint in the UK has barely moved over the past 20 years.

Mr Symons said: 'If we are continuing on a business as usual trajectory by the time we get to 2045 we are still a long way from zero carbon construction. That need us to be thinking more imaginatively about in-situ recycling and absolutely needs us to be thinking about procurement. I know a number of local authorities are thinking really hard about driving procurement.'

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Key Route Network Manager

Liverpool City Region
£63,753 - £71,747
An exciting new opportunity has arisen within the Integrated Transport Directorate of the LCR Combined Authority Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Development Management Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£24,313 to £34,788
An excellent candidate is required to prove to have the desire and ambition to progress and develop into an exciting career, and... North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Development Management Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£24,313 to £34,788
To be successful you must... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Environmental Health Officer and Grad EHO – Private Sector Housing with benefits* x 2

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £42,490
We have an exciting opportunity for two organised and enthusiastic Environment Health Officers  or a qualified graduate working towards their... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver x 7 positions

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that this is a 6 month fixed term contract on a part time basis. Working hours will be discussed at interview. The salary is up to £18,938 England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highways Engineer

Rutland County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
Do you enjoy getting outdoors in the course of your work? Rutland
Recuriter: Rutland County Council

Senior Highways Manager

Rutland County Council
£47,544 to £51,138
This is the lead role for our Highways service with a remit to... Rutland
Recuriter: Rutland County Council

Road Safety Assistant (Cycling)

London Borough of Bexley
£13,947.32 - £14,713.97, per annum
You will be an enthusiastic individual who can effectively communicate with children and adults. Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Medium/Heavy Vehicle Mechanic - January 2020

North West Leicestershire District Council
You could earn up to £28,785 + 0.75 hours per week plain time overtime
Tasks will include preparation for DVSA annual examination, servicing, general and defect generated repairs, fault finding including diagnostic tests. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Senior Engineer (Co-ordinator) - 2 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636 + £2000 Market Rate Supplement
The role is in the Highway Network Management & Co-ordination (HNMC) Team, which is part of Operational Services. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Surface Water Engineer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £35350 per annum
At Essex County Council, we're passionate about helping deliver economic growth, the best starts in life and the chance to age well for people in the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highways Operations Manager

Swindon Borough Council
Salary up to £41,494 p.a.
In this key role, you will plan, organise, co-ordinate and control the workforce Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Director Neighbourhood & Enforcement

Telford & Wrekin Council
Cicra 89k
Telford and Wrekin is a great place to live, work, visit and do business. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Engineer (Highways Maintenance Design)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Senior Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Projects Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£33,153 - £35,755
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Lead Practitioner (Infrastructure)

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£33,799 to £35,934 per annum
Newark and Sherwood is looking to recruit to its newly created post of Lead Practitioner for Infrastructure. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Senior Parking Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
As Senior Parking Manager, you will be responsible for the effective management of the Council’s Parking Services contract Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata. (£11.50 per hour)
A school crossing patrol officer is responsible for assisting children to cross the road safely on their way to and from school. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,782 - £42,683
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Network Management Team Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council