DfT considering to allow councils to use technologies other than SCANNER to report surface conditions

The Department for Transport (DfT) is planning to allow local highway authorities to use technologies other than the standard SCANNER option for assessing surface conditions.

It said that following evidence gathered in its recent review, it will remove the current prescriptions around road condition data and introduce a new data standard.

This will mean, local highway authorities will have flexibility to choose whichever surveying technology best supports their asset management strategy, providing the technology aligns to this new data standard. This will open the market, driving choice and technological innovation while still ensuring that data will be sufficiently comparable for us to maintain a national view of the condition of the highways network.

Every year local authorities are required to supply the DfT with accurate and comparable data on the condition of local highways. Currently, this data must be collected using Surface Condition Assessment for the National Network of Roads (SCANNER) survey vehicles.

Now, DfT is planning a new standard for road condition data and technology; local authorities will have to meet the standard, but will have some freedom in choosing how they meet it.

While SCANNER technology continues to be “robust and valued by many local authorities”, the DfT acknowledges, there is an increasing number of competing technologies that offer alternative to local authorities. However, so long as DfT mandates SCANNER, there is now way for new developments to enter the market.

The Transport Select Committee’s October 2019 report, Local roads funding and maintenance: filling the gap, identified problems with, and obliged government to review the regime around, local road condition monitoring data.

The DfT has said responses from local highway authorities helped inform different options for collecting road condition data in future. These are:

*Option 1: DfT continue to prescribe how local highway authorities collect road condition data

*Option 2: DfT to procure a national survey of road condition

*Option 3: Local highway authorities can choose any surveying technology that aligns to a new industry data standard

The development of the new standard is expected to take some time to get right. An advisory board will be set up this year and a steering group in 2022. By the end of 2022 a draft data standard should be completed, ready for testing in 2023 and 2024, before formal implementation.

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