Simulation technology set to improve roadworks management in London
Immense partners with Transport for London to improve congestion associated with roadworks
Thousands of roadworks take place on the capital's roads each year, causing disruption to millions of journeys and contributing to problems of poor air quality and climate change.
TfL launched the London RoadLab programme to find new ways of tackling this issue, working with a cohort of UK technology providers to trial and demonstrate their solutions. Following a competitive procurement process, TfL has awarded contracts to Immense and samdesk to deploy their technology in London.
Immense has been working alongside TfL since September 2021 to make its technology platform available to predict the impact of roadworks before they happen. By simulating different versions of the future, Immense can be used to proactively manage works, seeking to minimise the disruption for general traffic, buses and active modes.
The benefits of Immense
Immense is a technology platform for simulating transport and infrastructure systems. The Immense platform leverages cloud computing to deliver simulated outputs more quickly, and without the need for specialist software and hardware.
It's often challenging to use traditional simulation methods to evaluate roadworks and unplanned incidents on the transport network. Detailed modelling is usually reserved for only the largest or most disruptive schemes due to issues of cost, time and available expertise. This is damaging as the cumulative and compounding impacts of smaller schemes may not be well understood, and the opportunity for coordination and mitigation may be lost.
Immense will create a dedicated application for TfL, working closely with planners and network impact specialists to understand the steps taken in evaluating works. This will give non-specialists a unique opportunity to appraise roadworks – testing different configurations and coordination strategies, collaborating with colleagues, and evaluating results – all from a browser-based application.
This application will be powered by the Immense platform – simulating individual vehicles as they traverse the capital's road networks, and understanding how traffic is rerouted and impacted by the presence of roadworks. This highly granular simulation enables a robust evaluation of roadworks across the entire 24hour day, covering key measures such as journey time and vehicle emissions, and giving expert staff a stronger basis from which to make decisions.
Natalia Vittoratou, Immense Product Manager, said: "This tool will help TfL stakeholder groups, from operational to technical teams, tackle the challenges of undertaking rapid evaluation whilst increasing the evidence base available. We are excited for the next steps of the programme in the coming months, where we will start enhancing our Immense platform in order to support the RoadLab application."
RoadLab in a nutshell
In 2019, TfL launched an innovation challenge called RoadLab, which called on the UK's leading innovators to develop technology that could make roadworks in the capital safer, smarter and more accessible. The London RoadLab programme was the first time TfL had used an innovation partnership procedure, a new procurement process to work with the private sector which allows TfL to find ways of tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the capital. Nine innovators were chosen to go through to a ten-week programme, where their proposed technology was trialled and developed with the support of London's major utility companies and London Councils.
Following a procurement process, TfL awarded contracts to Immense and samdesk for technology that will make the management of London's road network safer, smarter and more efficient.
The programme was funded by TfL's Lane Rental scheme, which charges roadworks companies for digging up London's busiest roads at times that cause the most disruption to people's journeys. 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.
Kristina Irving, Immense Head of Programme Delivery, said: "Immense is excited to be working with TfL to develop and deploy our technology in London. Our simulation platform can make predictive insight available to a wider range of stakeholders, enabling better management of works to the benefit of all road users.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity to work closely with TfL's expert staff to understand how we can improve the range of tools they have available, and to make a real difference to travel in the capital."
Rikesh Shah, TfL's Head of Commercial Innovation, said: "London's road network plays an absolutely vital role in keeping the capital moving and we're always looking for innovative ways of making our streets safer, smarter and more sustainable. Our RoadLab programme has shown how the public and private sector can work together to create smart solutions to London's transport problems.
"The technology developed by both samdesk and Immense builds on the great results we achieved following the research and development work with during RoadLab. This delivered nine innovative solutions in ten weeks, an astounding effort for both the public and private sector which we hope to build on in future innovation challenges."