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A new project will investigate the potential benefits of using digital technology on local roads in England. The Digital Roads for Local Roads project will assess the needs and opportunities of local roads, seeking to provide a future vision for widespread digitalisation.

To understand the benefits of digital roads for local areas, the initiative will engage with stakeholders through surveys, workshops and interviews to gather a broad spectrum of opinions from local authorities, professional bodies, academia, consultants and contractors.

The proposed ‘digital roads’ will harness modern technology to change the way in which our roads are designed, managed and used. The new roads will be digitally designed and constructed using an automated machine process – improving efficiency and enhancing safety. 

Once operational, data from these roads will be gathered with sensors before being digitally transmitted to analysts. This will allow them to better predict when roads will require repairs, adjustments or closure with more accurate and up-to-date information. 

Sensors will quickly spot if any maintenance is required, meaning less build-up of damage and easier repairs. Robotic equipment will be deployed for these repairs, completing tasks much faster, using safer techniques and reducing disruption for drivers. 

For example, a new automated system called Aqua Prep will work cleaning concrete structures. The intelligent technology will use half the amount of water to complete the same task as humans, making a laborious task more efficient. 

The proposed digital roads will provide immediate and accurate information on all connected roads, meaning faster reaction times to accidents. Not only will this improve road safety, but will also allow better diversion routes reducing journey disruptions. 

Not to mention, road users will be able to plan ahead before a journey, accessing real-time information about their route online. The Digital Roads for Local Roads project said that while strategic road authorities have worked on digital solutions for years, less work has been done on the local network.

President of ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport) Mark Kemp commented: “This is an exciting project that will allow local authorities and central government to work together harnessing the power of technology on our roads. The project will look at aspects around the meaning of digital roads in the context of a local authority road network, and the benefits and opportunities so that local highway authorities can start to plot their roadmap towards a digital road network.” 


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