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TfL backs digital solutions for managing roadworks


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Transport for London (TfL) has picked out projects using AI, internet data collection and automated modelling of roadworks to improve the management of roadworks.

Four projects have been chosen from a shortlist of nine under its London RoadLab competition. They have been through a 10-week discovery process, supported by £20,000 each, at the Plexal innovation centre.

The four winners will be awarded with contracts with a total value of £2 million for further development.

Two of them, from Mobilised Construction and Route Reports, provide solutions that involve fitting internet enabled devices to buses and dial-a-ride vehicles to collect data on road quality. This would allow TfL and the London boroughs to identify where the road surface is wearing out and where maintenance will be needed ahead of time.

The SAM solution uses AI to monitor social media to identify road incidents and emergency events, making it easier for TfL to respond more quickly.

Fourthly, Immense Simulations is developing an automated method of modelling the impacts of roadworks in advance, aimed at improving the flow of traffic. It is currently a very time consuming process.

Further talks

TfL said it is also continuing discussions with Oxford Plastics and RSK about a solution to detect water leakages underground before any digging takes place.

Its director of transport innovation Michael Hurwitz said: “We’re working closely with partners across London to make the capital one of the world’s smartest cities and these projects all have the potential to make a real difference to the safety and efficiency of roadworks in London.

“London RoadLab is a completely new way of procuring for TfL and we’re excited to see these products in action on the capital’s streets, helping to tackle congestion and making our roads safer, and smarter.”

The programme was funded by TfL’s Lane Rental programme, which charges utility companies to ‘rent’ road space whilst digging up the roads for maintenance. This money is then invested in tackling congestion and minimising the impact of roadworks and has saved £100m in lost travel time since the scheme started.

It is the first time TfL has used the innovation challenge approach, in which it asks companies to come up with possible solutions to specific issues.

Image from TfL

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