Staffordshire County Council and its highway contractor, Amey, have announced plans to develop technology aimed at streamlining the progress of roadworks and cutting traffic delays.
The result will be a joint works scheduling service bringing together the county and Amey with utility providers and telecommunications companies. The two partners will then be able to combine their own works programmes with forward planning information from the other service providers.
Having won funding from government-backed agency Innovate UK, the 18-month project, which also embraces Staffordshire University and the Government-backed Future Cities Catapult innovation hub, aims to design, trial and deliver a new, county-wide spatial planning system for roadworks.
The system would use a smart city platform developed by digital solution provider CSC.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for highways, said: 'Keeping a rural county the size of Staffordshire on the move can be a challenge at times, especially when you have to factor in highways maintenance, major developments, utility and telecom projects and emergency work – sometimes all at once.
'Although we always aim to coordinate work in the carriageway this project is designed to use the very latest technology to programme works more effectively to minimise costs, disruption and inconvenience even further.'
Key technology components include the use of cloud-based web services for cost effectiveness, and a common data hub with which all streetworks planning systems will be able to communicate.
The CSC platform will allow the analysis of multiple sets of data sources, on both current and proposed works, and present the results on a digital map to enable different groups of planners to appreciate the wider context in which their works will be implemented. The ensuing rationalisation will minimise traffic disruption.
The two partners are already working together in delivering an innovative+ contract on Staffordshire's highways, which is designed to be flexible enough to expand, over time, to take in other county services – and, potentially, be open to other local authorities.
The contract initially run for 10 years, with the option of a 10-year extension, and be worth up to £80m per annum.
Amey has committed to creating local jobs and training opportunities, and to supplying the technology needed to maintain deliver project priorities.