04 January 2022
Looking forward: 2022
Looking back on 2021 and forward into 2022. Here's what to expect...
Heading into the new year and having recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary, it feels like a good time to provide an update on our plans for 2022, and specifically, how we aim to help with some of the most pressing challenges that face our customers.
Roads have never been more important — to the post pandemic recovery, to meet new and more flexible patterns of travel demand, and to meet the expectations of a more informed, more digitally connected road user. We firmly believe that the role of the highway authority is likely to undergo greater transformation over the next 10 years, than it has over the past 50.
HAUC(UK), the Highways and Utilities Committee, which represents road authorities and the utilities street works industry, has articulated a cohesive vision, and our initiatives for the year ahead speak directly to its strategic goals.
Environment and Decarbonisation
Firstly, taking Environment & Decarbonisation, we will be launching a new Bus Route Manager solution aimed at helping local authorities and subnational transport bodies deliver on the Government’s Bus Back Better initiative to put buses back at the centre of public transport strategy.
Getting journeys back onto buses and away from private cars is going to be a critical measure of how we build a better society post Covid. Before the pandemic buses carried more than double the number of passengers than trains, but reduced travel during lockdowns and the disincentive of social distancing has led bus usage to fall away dramatically to the point where its business model is broken.
Reliability of bus services is going to be a critical factor in getting passengers to switch back to buses, and recognition of this should be at the heart of every Bus Service Improvement Plan. one.network has a tool to greatly enhance that reliability which we will be launching early in the new year… watch this space!
Taking the next HAUC goal of collaboration, this is a subject that is in our DNA. In fact, the clue is in our name!
When we rebranded as one.network a couple of years ago many of our customers observed that it was a great name because we provide a single view of the entire road network. But the other reason for the name change was the powerful network effect that takes place within our platform, where every road agency can exchange authoritative, up-to-date information about its activities with all stakeholders.
We have over 20 thousand active operational users on the platform logging in daily, from across traffic operations teams, street works teams, events organisers, bus operators and many more.
We now have traffic management plans Temporary Traffic Management Orders being digitally submitted through the platform seamlessly between statutory undertakers and authorities, and more recently Street Manager transactions such as starting and stopping works are now supported within one.network.
We will be extending the scope of digital collaboration capabilities over the course of this year to support a wide range of use cases, including flexi permitting.
Digitalisation and Innovation
Turning to Digitalisation and Innovation, one.network can reasonably claim to have been a leader in digital transformation of the street works industry over the past decade.
Here at one.network, we join forces with the most progressive organisations in our industry to try new things and bring forward innovation, such as our work with Openreach and JAG(UK) to develop a flexi permit solution that crucially addressed the business needs of the nation’s biggest works promoter and the concerns of highway authorities, and scooped Street Works UK Project of the Year Award 2021.
Last year we were also awarded the accolade of Transport Tech Company of the Year Award at the prestigious UK Business Tech Awards, recognising the pivotal role one.network has played in enabling road authorities to communicate live updates to drivers via services such as Google, paving the way to much greater transfer of information between road agency and road user with Connected Vehicles.
This year we are focusing our development efforts on harnessing AI to forecast the real world impact of roadworks so that better traffic management decisions can be made and the knock on impacts to road users and residents communicated with greater certainty in advance. Expect an announcement later in the year on this ground breaking development.
Skills and Workforce
Skills and Workforce represent one of the greatest systemic challenges to the highways and street works industries.
Attracting new and diverse talent into the sector is difficult at the best of times, let alone in the context of a national skills shortage compounded by unprecedented levels of staff sickness absence. We lack engineers (a deficit of 20 thousand is estimated by Government) and public sector recruitment is at crisis point in some areas, with high numbers of vacancies in roles requiring specialist skills and experience.
So how can one.network help?
Technology is by no means the whole answer, but greater automation and validation of complex tasks — such as coordinating street works permit applications, risk assessing works sites to underpin planning, and creating the necessary regulatory documentation and signage layouts to enable works to be carried out legally and safely — three areas where we are investing in greater automation within the platform to reduce reliance on skills and knowledge that are in short supply.
These developments will be announced through the year and we will be working with industry partners to ensure they deliver the promised benefits.
If you would like further detail on any of the above or are interested in working with us as an early adopter on a specific development, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.