A UK trial using state of the art traffic sensors is being carried out by Kent County Council (KCC) and its highways maintenance services provider Amey to monitor traffic patterns and help make future transport decisions. The trial is part of the £22.9m Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) SMART Places Live Labs programme.

Working in collaboration with Vivacity Labs, 32 insight sensors have been installed at various positions across the county which are able to classify what modes of transport are using the highways at any given time, monitoring the usage and speeds of cars, buses, bicycles and pedestrians.

Using the anonymous data collected from these sensors will provide insight into how the transport infrastructure is being used. Combining real-time data and predictive algorithms enables the highways authority to identify and predict flows before they happen – ensuring an effective response to data being provided and ultimately a better road user experience.

Giles Perkins, ADEPT Live Labs Programme Director said: “By taking a scaled approach to the deployment of digital sensors, local roads managers can deliver much improved outcomes for their networks. Live Labs is helping prove that new technologies can manage our essential assets in a more cost effective and informed way.”

Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Michael Page, said: “We have been working on several trials as part of the Live Labs programme which tests the very latest technology to see how it can help us save money, find and fix problems quicker, and make stronger evidence-based decisions about our road network.

“We’ve already piloted drones to spot highway defects, fitted cameras to buses and highways vehicles to provide road condition data and we’re now running this trial with Vivacity.

“When compared to traditional data collection, such as loops in the road, these sensors are considerably more efficient and accurate in analysing pedestrian and bicycle usage, giving us data on the interactions between pedestrians, cyclists and road traffic.

“We’ll be able to use this anonymised data to get a real feel of how people are getting around the county and any issues that could be addressed by us as the highways authority and these sensors will be providing us with considerably more evidence to help that decision-making.”

The trial is due to last for six months during which time the data collected will be used to understand traffic patterns and propose any potential future improvements.

The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, 02, Ringway and WSP. Nine UK local authorities are working on projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy and communications.