DfT backs connected vehicles for road maintenance

Councils get shares of £900,000 for digital projects to provide data to repair potholes and manage assets

The Department for Transport (DfT) has made £900,000 available to a group of local authorities to try new approaches with digital technology, including the use of connected vehicles, to improve road maintenance.

Pothole in tarmac roadIt said the trials are aimed at providing councils with data to enable them to repair potholes before they occur and maintain other assets more effectively.

DfT has provided the money along with a £100 million grant to help authorities repair potholes and protect roads in the aftermath of the recent burst of severe weather.

It put out a call for ideas to use connected vehicles late last year with the initial promise of £500,000; but it has increased the amount in response to the number and quality of proposals it received.

The department highlighted the provision of £100,000 to Blackpool Council to lead seven others in a digital inspector scheme. This will make use of high definition cameras mounted on vehicles to collect data on road and path conditions, which is then analysed by computer to highlight where roads are deteriorating.

City of York will also get £72,000 to use a similar system to build on its pothole spotter trial.

Further support

Other projects to win support include Swindon Borough Council trialling the use of smartphone sensors to collate data on road conditions, Essex County Council working with Daimler to use information collected by its cars, and Derby City Council and Oxfordshire County Council using connected vehicles to collect data on the condition of road signs.

Funding has also been provided to Transport for the West Midlands, West Sussex County Council, Buckinghamshire County Council and Southampton City Council for projects to monitor road conditions.

In addition, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has been given £30,000 for work on technology improvements to future proof local road networks.

In October of last year, the association published a report highlighting the potential to use digital technology in improving road maintenance, but also warning that without support local systems could be left behind or be very slow in delivering the benefits.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0