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Transport for London calls for innovations in managing portable traffic signals

Roadworks vehicle
Image source: Transport for London

Transport for London (TfL) has launched a new innovation challenge aimed at finding solutions for issues caused by roadworks for construction and utilities work.

Named RoadLab 2.0, it follows a competition in 2019 and is being funded by TfL’s Lane Rental Scheme, which charges utility companies and TfL contractors for digging up roads at the most traffic-sensitive times and locations.

TfL said the new challenge is focused on improving portable traffic signals to reduce congestion and looking at ways in which it can better use data on walking and cycling in London to plan roadworks.

It said that more 20,000 portable signals are used in the city each year, often causing further delays for road users, which wastes time, reduces productivity and increases carbon emissions. It is subsequently looking for solutions that will make roads more efficient by reducing the delays and making the signals more reliable.

It is also asking for ideas to use data to make walking and cycling in the city safer and easier, with a suggestion that solutions could include better real time data on the journeys to help in planning roadworks.

Key challenges

Rikesh Shah, TfL’s head of open innovation, said: “I am incredibly excited that we’re launching RoadLab 2.0. We want to continue working with a diverse range of the best market innovators to solve some of London’s key challenges.

“We’ve proven through FreightLab and RoadLab 1.0 that working openly in partnership with innovators brings in new ideas at scale, and I’m keen we harness the ideas, skills and energy of the market to help us make London’s roads safer and more accessible for sustainable travel. I’d encourage anybody with a great idea to apply to RoadLab 2.0 and take part in our latest innovation challenge.”

TfL said it is now using solutions from the first RoadLab challenge to reduce congestion, including simulation technology to model roadworks and AI software that uses anonymised social media data to detect emerging disruptions.

The new challenge is open for applications under 23 December 2022.

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