New project aims for digital local roads

Chris Ames

A new project is getting underway to analyse the potential benefits of increasing connectivity and the use of digital technology on local roads in England to create ‘digital roads’.

Digital roads is a broad concept where increasing use of information technology, data and connectivity allows changes to the way roads are designed, built, managed and used.

The Digital Roads for Local Roads project aims to benefit the whole transport sector, local road authorities, and the Department for Transport (DfT) by providing a clear digital vision focusing on the needs and opportunities of local roads which can help inform future policy decisions.

The initiative is engaging with stakeholders through surveys, workshops and interviews to gather a wide spectrum of views from local authorities, professional bodies, academia, consultants and contractors.

The project is being delivered through specialist contributors including Ringway as a local and strategic highways provider; Vinci Highways; digital transportation solutions provider Jacobs; and Ordnance Survey as mapping and data provider; with research and stakeholder engagement led by TRL.

The team is working with the DfT through the Transport Technology Forum, along with council directors body ADEPT and Innovate UK.

The project team said that while strategic road authorities have worked on digital solutions for years, less work has been done on the local network.

ADEPT president Mark Kemp said: ‘This is an exciting project that will allow local authorities and central government to work together harnessing the power of technology on our roads. The project will look at aspects around the meaning of digital roads in the context of a local authority road network, and the benefits and opportunities so that local highway authorities can start to plot their roadmap towards a digital road network.’

The project will provide a future vision and case for wide scale digitalisation of local roads, which aims to help DfT and local authorities develop policies and reach funding decisions for the next five years, as well as informing Local Highway Authorities and other stakeholders of the potential advantages that can be delivered through Digital Roads.

It will deliver a report later in the summer which will provide a view of what a digital local road network in England could look like by 2030 and how local authorities can begin to work towards that.

The report will set out the wider benefits of digitally-enabled roads for various stakeholders including users, residents, local businesses and the wider communities.

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