National Highways recognised for geospatial innovation by Esri global award

National Highways is the only UK winner of an Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award, having won the accolade for its innovative use of geospatial technology, enabling a quicker response to incidents on the road network.

The award was made at the Esri annual User Conference in California, one of the world’s largest geospatial industry events, attracting almost 40,000 attendees. Special Achievement in GIS Awards recognise organisations which are demonstrating geospatial leadership in their field and setting new precedents. More than 100,000 entries were submitted for the awards.

National Highways is using Esri enterprise GIS to support its Digital Roads strategy by consolidating all geospatial data and applications into one spatial portal, adding new capabilities and making GIS more accessible at lower cost. Projects have included creating a single digital model of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) to provide staff with the same real-time view for the first time. Control rooms across the country are now using a Single View of the Network (SVN) dashboard which has incident alerts, details of roadworks, weather updates and the location of traffic officers available on an interactive map.

Benefits to date include being able to predict problem locations and deploy traffic officers more quickly, better coordination of roadworks to reduce disruption and optimising traffic flows to reduce congestion and emissions. It also removes the need to maintain multiple road models within multiple systems and, through these efficiencies, National Highways has decreased its total cost of GIS ownership by more than 10% compared to two years ago.

National Highway’s SRN is the backbone of the country. Spatial data in the SRN model includes information on over 4,000 miles of highway, bridges, tunnels and other assets including road signs and cameras. Companies that rely on the SRN contribute over £400bn in Gross Value Added to the economy.

Davin Crowley-Sweet, National Highways Chief Data Officer, said: “This award is a significant achievement for our team. Our spatial data is the ‘crown jewels’ of our data landscape – the primary key of primary keys. Having a single view of it to support the whole organisation helps foster a data-driven culture, increasing business benefits and critical for delivering our Digital Roads vision and beyond.

“We are always looking for new ways to make people’s journeys smoother and safer on our roads and we are now able to react more swiftly to incidents to get traffic moving again as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, our vision for the digital roads of the future will incorporate new capabilities, such as digital twins, predictive planning, single view of assets, and connected autonomous vehicles. Each of these initiatives will require a common, trusted representation of the network to be successful.”

National Highways made the move to an Esri enterprise GIS over a year ago, following recognition that geospatial data was its most critical type of data – the result of an in-depth asset evaluation which valued its data overall at £60 billion. Delivered via Esri UK’s Managed Cloud Service, the GIS consolidates all location data into one central system and provides a wide range of applications, data models and other GIS services, enabling 5,660 staff to make better use of spatial data.

“National Highways is at the forefront of demonstrating what a true enterprise GIS can achieve,” said Chris Barber, Head of Transport at Esri UK. “Esri technology is helping to maximise the value gained from geospatial data which is now used more extensively across the organisation. Taking an enterprise approach gives National Highways a solid, scalable foundation to help meet its Digital Roads objectives and tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our roads today and in years to come.”

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