Bringing data to the centre of the decision-making process, Amey, as Kent County Council’s highways maintenance provider, has developed innovative solutions in collaboration with the authority to improve the gritting operation and keep drivers safe throughout the winter.
Through analysis of Kent’s geography and historical road surface temperature sensor data, Amey Consulting developed AI models to better predict route icing conditions. Road surface temperatures can now be predicted 24 hours in advance to 90% accuracy, within 1ºC. In turn, this created the opportunity for Amey to work with Kent County Council to conduct a wholesale redesign of its gritting domains in order to maximise the consistency of route icing behaviour and hence improve the effectiveness of Kent’s nightly gritting decisions.
These improvements mean Kent can expect to see a reduction in the total quantity of gritting conducted on the network, by reducing the incidence of ‘surplus gritting’ of roads that do not freeze. Kent’s key routes will be gritted more quickly and efficiently, creating safer conditions for Kent communities. It is anticipated that the programme will improve gritting efficiency by 18%, equating to a cost saving of £109k per year for the council.
David Brazier, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “It is exciting to see the evolution of ground-breaking technology and the data we can use to make sure we are able to keep Kent moving in adverse weather. We know winter is a critical time for our teams and with this additional information we will prioritise salting the right routes at the right times, putting KCC at the forefront of smart winter services. As well as making sure drivers have a smooth journey, we need residents to do their bit and make sure their vehicles are roadworthy.”
Nicola Blake, Amey Account Director for Kent, said: “Officially, the winter period for our teams starts in the middle of October. Having worked with Kent County Council and our in-house consultancy team, Amey Consulting, we have new data that will help our teams to continue to effectively and efficiently deliver our gritting programme this year.”
Additionally, Amey has created a digital model of Kent’s gritting route network which has been used to simulate and optimise the locations and movements of its gritter fleet. This further model has been adapted so that Kent County Council winter services team is able to easily try alternative scenarios, for example, varying the salt spread rate, or excluding certain routes to suit different weather severities, automatically uploading the updated routes to the gritters’ navigation systems.
These solutions are ground-breaking in the winter maintenance space putting Kent County Council at the forefront of winter services innovation in the UK.