There is a ‘real opportunity’ for the highways supply chain to work with National Highways to ensure that it is operating its network in a more advanced, insightful and responsive way to help drive a more digitally enabled road network by 2025.

These are the thoughts of Elliot Shaw, Executive Director of Strategy and Planning at National Highways, who was this week’s guest on Highways Voices as it returned after a summer break.

Mr Shaw was speaking about the newly launched Digital Roads Strategy that promises to a virtual twin of the road network that can predict the time and location of potholes and other maintenance issues is just one of the innovations National Highways says is poised to transform its future operations.

Other initiatives that could lead the charge on what it calls a ‘digital revolution’ for roads include intelligent road materials able to repair themselves and more connected and autonomous plant.

These are some of the systems set to be rolled out as part of National Highways’ Digital Roads strategy which is being outlined on a new website and ‘virtual learning environment’.

“We really hope to achieve a step change with this where you really do see that technology has transformed the way that we use our roads. We really want this strategy to be the catalyst not only for our own network by the industry at large and we need to work with our supply chain, and others to really make that move forward. So, I would hope we will see a significantly more digitally enabled road network by 2025. And that’s in each of the three areas that we set out within the strategy-the design and construction space, also within the operations, and then finally, also how we engage with our customers as well. “

“We want the ability to deliver schemes faster, deliver them more efficiently, and I think from a safety perspective, as well, you know, actually, the more that we can do these things in a controlled digitally enabled way the more we can expect to see fewer people doing some of the more challenging and dangerous activities on site. So, we would expect three safety, safety impacts, as well, as on the operation side.”

Mr Shaw said a chance to have a more connected, digital roadmap would be an opportunity to do things differently.

“We have the chance to just do different things now, things that we would never have been able to do before. I think on that what we’ve been really reflecting on is, how can this progress deliver better value for our customers? What’s the unique information that we can provide? And how should we get that across to our customers?”