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Costain wins innovation competition to help Highways England accelerate connected digital roads infrastructure

MIDAS technology at Costain

23 July 2019

Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company, has been awarded innovation funding from Highways England for two connected digital roads projects.
The funding will be used to develop leading-edge smart infrastructure solutions that will help Highways England in its aims to improve road safety, journey times and customer experience on the UK’s strategic road network.

The first Costain project connected digital roads, will create the link between digital roads infrastructure and connected vehicles. Working with the automotive industry supply chain, Costain will carry out a pilot to demonstrate the effectiveness of an open mobility services platform (OMSP) that will make real time information seamlessly available to connected vehicles. This will enable vehicles to adapt to changes in operating conditions and improve safety, relieve congestion and provide an enhanced experience for the user.

The video analytics service is the second project - developed with Vivacity Labs, the SME that won the Costain-sponsored intelligent infrastructure challenge at Highways UK in 2016. The project will jointly implement a modular video analytics solution to optimise Highways England CCTV and enhance operations at regional control centres. The team will work with Highways England operators to identify key issues, with Costain developing a software platform to manage CCTV feeds and enabling Vivacity’s machine learning software to identify incidents on the road network. The software will advise and alert operators to incidents, enabling faster, more effective responses and enhanced operations.

Costain’s head of digital technology solutions, Simon Ellison, commented: “Connected digital roads and smarter ways of spotting and communicating hazards through intelligent video analytics will have a huge impact on improving road safety, journey times as well as customer experience. These projects demonstrate our digital technology solutions in action to support our clients and enhance road infrastructure.”

Peter Mildon, Vivacity’s COO, said: “Vivacity's software uses machine learning methods to extract anonymous data on how a road space is being used. This project will work with Costain to develop the alerts feature and integrate the software with existing CCTV assets, rather than relying on newly installed infrastructure. This approach will enable Highways England to unlock the benefits of this new system for a fraction of the cost.”

Highways England launched the two multi-million-pound competitions, worth up to £20 million, earlier this year to encourage the country’s most creative minds to come up with innovative ideas to change the way the country’s motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used. The projects being funded included new construction materials, different ways of tackling air quality and better use of technology to provide people with a range of information.

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s executive director for safety, engineering and standards, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this funding to support ideas around connected vehicles and infrastructure, improved safety, design and construction that reduces cost and delivers more predictable journey times.