WHITE PAPER: Digital Innovation in Local Roads


The UK’s ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Places and Transport) SMART Places Live Labs Programme has published its second white paper.

Developed through a series of one-to-one discussions with the local authority Live Lab project leads, ‘Digital Innovation in Local Roads’ looks at the rollout of the digital-led aspects  in innovation programmes and identifies some common opportunities and challenges.

The quarterly papers are intended to make learnings and insights available as they happen, giving industry decision-makers the opportunity to capitalise on the work being done through the programme. The first White Paper covered the mobilisation phase of the projects.

The two-year, £22.9million DfT-funded Live Labs initiative grew out of a desire to accelerate innovation in the local roads sector. This has rapidly developed to encompass use of data, SMART materials and energy, resulting in innovative pilots ranging from using drones to identify potholes and recycled plastic in road surfacing, to installing geo-thermal probes to de-ice carparks and heat buildings.

Each Live Lab is unique but the role of digital tools, platforms and data has emerged as a common thread. Much of the innovation being trialled comes in the form of new technology such as sensors that monitor air quality, road surface temperatures, gullies and traffic movement. Collected data is typically fed into dashboards and wider networks that exchange data with other systems.

Neil Gibson, chair of the Live Labs Commissioning Board, said: “ADEPT set up Live Labs to enable local authorities to deploy digital transformation as part of the local roads network. The publication of the Digital White Paper is part of our commitment to sharing our findings with the sector.

“As we move into the final stretch, we can see the programme is offering new possibilities for highways and local roads. I am pleased to see it is becoming so much more, with uses being found in adult social care and opportunities to be explored across decarbonisation, education and health. Live Labs is enabling us to redesign how we use data to enable better real time decision-making, and potentially, how we can create better partnerships through rethinking our procurement, legal and financial systems.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).