Highways England launches integrated weather information system


With winter just around the corner, Highways England has launched an integrated weather information system that will enable it to execute better traffic management on the country’s main roads during times of severe weather.

Highways England (HE) has introduced a £5m (US$6m) integrated weather information system to support its aims of keeping the road network free flowing and safe. The agency operates and maintains England’s motorways and major A roads, a network that spans 4,300 miles (6,920km) and carries a third of all traffic by mileage and two thirds of all heavy goods traffic.

Developed by IPL, part of the Civica Group’s digital solutions business, and incorporating Exactrak vehicle navigation and reporting technology, the severe weather information service (SWIS) brings together critical information on weather forecasts, road treatment plans, and winter fleet data, into a single system. It will help HE and its partners to manage the risk of severe weather more effectively, through improved access to dynamic real-time information, together with delivering technology-based efficiencies.

HE and its partners need access to accurate, robust and timely weather and winter service information to enable them to better manage the resilience of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and fulfil their network operator role. SWIS delivers an enhanced, consolidated view of information to approximately 2,000 operational users actively working to manage and improve the performance of the road network in advance of, and during, severe weather conditions, including winter service providers, maintainers and control room staff, and external parties. The system supports better planning, execution and recording of winter treatment actions, improved identification of weather events with a potential impact on the road network, and enhanced rectification of weather and winter treatment equipment faults.

Known for its ability to safely deliver complex and mission critical digital solutions, IPL has worked with HE as a long-term software development and support partner. The project was also supported by fleet data logging specialist Exactrak, providing real-time vehicle tracking and route navigation for drivers, to enable the agency to monitor all treatment activity carried out by the winter maintenance fleet. The system enables the monitoring of all activity once a vehicle has left a depot, and this data is recorded in SWIS to ensure compliance and to inform future planning.

David O’Connor, weather information services sponsor at Highways England, said, “Severe weather always presents a challenge, but with Civica’s support we’re improving the user experience through access to consistent and comprehensive information, enabling us to deliver a world-class service in relation to managing risk and the safety of the major road network and its users.”

Steve Shakespeare, executive director of digital solutions at Civica, commented, “The road network is relied upon by people and businesses across the country, and its operation is essential to people’s lives and the economy. The new system improves access to critical information to help Highways England to respond to weather conditions, and ultimately reduce risk and save money by keeping the network safer and free flowing.”

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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).