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TfL announces initiatives to make roadworks safer and smarter

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Transport for London has unveiled innovations that could make London’s roads safer and smarter during roadworks.

Under its London RoadLab innovation challenge, TfL, working with Plexal and utility companies, invited suppliers to pitch ideas for tackling some of the problems caused by roadworks.

Nine solutions were shortlisted, given £20,000 funding, and joined a 10-week programme where they worked with TfL, London councils and utility companies to develop products.

Following the programme, four products were chosen to go through to the contract negotiations stage with a total value of up to £2 million. These include:

  • Immense Simulations:  Developing an automated way of modelling the impacts of roadworks before they are done, which will improve the flow of traffic and reduce disruption. This modelling is traditionally a very time-consuming process
  • Mobilised Construction and Route Reports - Two different solutions that fit internet enabled devices to TfL buses and Dial-a-Ride vehicles and collect data on road quality. This would allow TfL to identify where the road surface is wearing out in real-time and would make it much easier to predict where maintenance will be needed ahead of time. This data could also help the London Boroughs with their highway maintenance activity
  • SAM – Using artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor social media to identify incidents and emergency events on the roads. This could make it easier for TfL to respond to incidents more quickly

TfL said the other five solutions were also of interest and it will continue discussions with Oxford Plastics who produced road barriers that could improve safety on the road, and RSK which demonstrated a solution to detect water leakages underground prior to any digging taking place.

The programme was funded by TfL’s Lane Rental programme, which charges utility companies to ‘rent’ road space whilst digging up the roads for maintenance. This money is then invested in tackling congestion and minimising the impact of roadworks and has saved £100m in lost travel time since the scheme started.

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s director of transport innovation, said: “We’re working closely with partners across London to make the capital one of the world’s smartest cities and these projects all have the potential to make a real difference to the safety and efficiency of roadworks in London.

“London RoadLab is a completely new way of procuring for TfL and we’re excited to see these products in action on the capital’s streets, helping to tackle congestion and making our roads safer, and smarter.”

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