Government has been urged to review legislation and run a series of pilots on improving the use of traffic regulation orders (TROs), aimed at improving its consistency and supporting its use in digital systems.
The recommendations have come from research for the Department for Transport (DfT) by GeoPlace – the joint venture between the Local Government Association and Ordnance Survey – into the creation of TROs and how the data is used across the country.
TROs are the orders behind restrictions on the road network that allow for temporary roadworks or permanent changes. The research was a step in creating an evidence base on how they could be opened up, potentially to support the development of new navigational apps.
The summary document focuses on four themes in their use – data, legislation, future of mobility and consistency – and produces 22 recommendations for the DfT and partner organisations to follow.
It highlights five steps:
Initiate pilot activities to assess how the draft Data Model for Traffic Regulation Order information and data meets user needs.
Undertake a review of existing legislation to ensure it is fit for purpose, and identify proposals for future improvements.
Conduct further research to establish what additional network change data is required to meet user needs, and consider how it could be made available.
Conduct further research to establish how TROS and temporary traffic regulation orders (TTROs) can be refined to meet user needs.
The British Parking Association should release and promote their guidance document.
The longer list includes looking at how TRO data can be provided in a more consistent format, exploring the levels of digital maturity within authorities, and exploring how data from different processes such as street works and TTRO applications can be combined.
One of the main points to emerge from the research is that not all local authorities currently publish TRO information in a digital format, and that where it is available there are inconsistencies in language and iconography describing restrictions.
This reflects the lack of standards and conventions to record and publish TROs, and is likely to cause problems for the users, especially with the increasing automation of information processing in navigation systems. As more connected vehicles appear on the road there is a need for data in standardised, digitally processable format.
In addition, the suppliers of digital maps need accurate and consistent data and utility providers and local authorities need it to coordinate their work more effectively.
The report says that TROs should be available as open data where appropriate, and that this requires it being technically accessible along with open licensing and formatting.
It indicates that 400 authorities across Great Britain create 53,300 TRO and TTROs annually to manage their road network at a projected cost of £126.4 million. Almost 90% of TTROs are attributed to street works.
Nick Chapallaz, managing director of GeoPlace, said: “TROs are an essential piece of national infrastructure data that need to be made available in a nationally consistent format. During the discovery, we worked collaboratively with local authorities who have a statutory obligation to create TROs and it is clear that they would value a review of legislation to increase the visibility of TRO information and reduce inconvenience to the public.”
He said of the recommendations: "If adopted, we believe that they will enhance planning for the roll out of electric vehicles and electric vehicles charging points that the DfT is championing and other innovations such as full fibre broadband and connected and autonomous vehicles.”
Publication of the report has come a few days after the DfT announced plans to open up data on planned changes to the roads network.
The DfT is looking at introducing legislation to make to make it easier for third parties to access TRO data on the predicted 50,000 yearly road closures. It is working with organisations including local authorities and those in the connected and autonomous vehicle sector.
A 16-week review of the legislation was scheduled to begin in August.
Image by Glyn Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons