The average British motorist is said to spend 30 hours a year stuck in traffic. Staring at the snarl up ahead it’s only natural that drivers start to question whose bright idea the works were and why on earth anyone in their right mind would opt to close lane three, divert at the retail park and introduce new traffic lights all at the same time. And why didn’t you hear about the works before you got caught up anyway?

Traffic coneAs cities and regions grow to provide employment, homes, schools and services for families, so too grows the need for construction and roadworks to bring new buildings online, plug new neighbourhoods into the existing road and utility networks, in addition to upgrading existing assets and carrying out emergency works.

With the UK’s population expected to top 76 million by 2045 and traffic volumes to increase by 43% come 2040, and more than £100 billion in government cash pledged for new infrastructure projects, roadworks are set to remain a part of everyday life for some time to come but must they always be so painful?

Enter a new scheme encouraging businesses to solve the disruptions and frustrations that come with emergency and planned works and a £10,000 bounty up for grabs for innovative digital solutions to reduce the pain. The winning scheme will also get the chance to trial their proposal working with Staffordshire County Council, Amey and Elgin as part of the Dare to Solve: Roadworks Contest.

With unprecedented quantities of data now available on public assets, development plans, road usage and traffic flow organisers are looking for digital solutions to age-old problems. Social media has enabled hyper local news and events sharing and real time travel updates. Digital innovation already supports tailorable mode and route planning and automatic notifications can inform us about daily delays along our usual commutes. Thus, this challenge is seeking digital solutions that help reduce the pain of roadworks for communities, commuters and businesses at a local level by helping them to understand, plan around and measure the impacts of street works.

Applicants are urged to consider:

  • Scanning available data on externallink, externallinkand elsewhere to establish where there might be issues to resolve
  • Providing step change innovation in presentation or community engagement around roadworks
  • Reimagining how to collect, analyse or visualise data on the impact of roadworks on citizens or businesses
  • Considering backend tools for councils and utilities to better engage with citizens and businesses about upcoming and ongoing roadworks
  • Drawing from principles of gamification to improve travel alternatives or incentivise their use

You can read the challenge brief externallink, guidance for applicants externallinkand apply online externallink.  Deadline for applications is noon on Friday 15 July.

A workshop externallinkis being held on Wednesday 29 June for potential applicants to find out more about the process.