Devon to manage winter from new control centre

Devon’s highway network will be monitored from a new control centre this winter.

Along with its usual preparations for the autumn and winter months, Devon County Council has also relocated its control centre to Sowton in Exeter. The centre monitors Devon’s roads 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Network Operations Control Centre incorporates the Network Response Team (Devon County Council and Skanska) responsible for responding to safety issues on the network, the Network Operations Support Team that manages road space and permitting, the Traffic Signals and Street Lighting Team, as well as the watchkeepers that monitor Devon’s Highway network 24 hours a day.

Improvements in technology have enabled greater use of cloud-based systems, offering a greater level of resilience and enabling the operations to be supported by other staff when home-working. The Control Centre enables parts of the network to be monitored remotely by using CCTV, weather information, traffic and congestion data and is able to control a range of Intelligent Transport Systems – such as variable message signs.

The centre’s systems link to the County’s network of 35 roadside ice detectors at strategic locations in Devon. Devon has also been working closely with weather forecasting organisations to use the latest forecasting technology – route-based forecasting – that provides a more cost-effective approach to determine which parts of the salting network will need treating on each night of the winter.

Five gritters have been upgraded this year to replace older vehicles in the authority’s winter fleet of 37 frontline gritters. The County Council has started its winter operation with its usual levels of around 24,000 tonnes of salt in its depots.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The new control centre increases our resilience as it makes the most of remote web-based systems and provides our highways teams with the flexibility they need to respond to issues on our road network. It’s a great asset for the County Council to be able to monitor our highway network in order to help keep Devon moving.

“Last winter was relatively mild but whatever the elements throw at us this winter, the County Council is, as always, fully prepared. Our depots are stocked with salt and more of our frontline gritters have been upgraded for our gritting teams. Our teams are standing by to treat around 2,000 miles of Devon’s main roads on our primary and secondary salting network as and when they’re called upon, and if we do have a sustained cold spell then we also have the support of snow wardens to help their local communities.”

More than 3,500 grit bins across Devon are available to support self-help on roads which are not on the gritting network. These supplies must only be used on the public highway. Empty grit bins can be reported via the Devon Council “Report It” webpages.

Around 325 volunteer snow wardens in towns and parishes throughout Devon, provide additional support for their communities as part of the Council’s winter self-help scheme. The snow wardens treat their priority routes during spells of prolonged severe weather.

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