Highways England holding hackathon to digitally transform UK’s road network


The Connected Places Catapult (CPC) has joined forces with Highways England (HE) to unlock the value of data on the UK’s Motorways in an intense 24-hour hackathon event in Milton Keynes on February 8-9 next year.

Formerly the Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapults, the CPC is looking for SMEs, academics, students and hackathon professionals with an interest in turning data into real-world solutions for the UK’s Strategic Road Network (SRN). The first prize is £1,000 (US$1,330) worth of vouchers plus an exclusive opportunity for the winner to work with CPC and HE develop their ideas further. The organisers will provide a wealth of data from traffic flows and accident information, to the location of every piece of hardware on the network. Competitors will be asked to find ways to aid decision making and planning, improve safety, provide a better service to road users, and find new ways to reduce disruption from maintenance.

The solutions will help HE to better manage the SRN, which covers the 4,300 miles (6,920km) of motorways and major trunk or ‘A’ roads that form the economic backbone of the country, being relied on by both local and international business. Currently, the network carries a third of all traffic by mileage and two-thirds of heavy goods traffic in the country.

At the end of the event, judges will pick the best idea based on a pitch from each team. The winning idea will change the way the road network operates. The judges will be looking for:

Solutions that combine different models and/or data to –

  • Improve safety on the network, for instance predicting or reducing the likelihood of accidents;
  • Optimise delivery of asset maintenance or major works;
  • Provide improved service to road users.

Solutions that find new and consistent ways of digitalising and tracking multiple HE assets to –

  • Provide better insights to the leadership team;
  • Help assess the impact of planned works or design changes;
  • Deliver efficiency savings across road operations, such as maintenance schedules.

“We are looking to promote creative and innovative thinking within Highways England through this Hackathon, to inspire us about the future,” explained Melissa Giusti, HE’s innovation manager. “There is tons of information and data in Highways England sitting in different teams. Finding new ways to use it could bring huge benefits to our operations teams and to road users. We want Hackathon participants to demonstrate new ways to look at road data to create new solutions for the road network.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.