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Live Labs Blog: Kent's final round up

12 May 2022

In the first of our Live Labs final blogs, Carol Valentine sums up Kent’s many successes.

Over the last two years, our Kent County Council (KCC) and Amey project team has achieved many great outcomes with our various workstreams. We initially identified 50 possible innovations, which were broken down into ten workstreams, categorised by the type of innovation and business need.

The centrepiece, and major success of the project, has been the HADMS platform (Highways Asset Data Management System). This is a data led asset management system developed to keep track of compliance and performance. Designed by our team at Amey and working closely with several of our Highway Managers, District Managers and Engineers, HADMS is used day to day by operations staff within KCC. The platform has a number of different functions including monitoring winter gritting and work order performance, as well as keeping track of our trees and canopy coverage. Having secured funding to further develop the platform beyond Live Labs, we will be working on this over the coming months and familiarising more members of staff with its functions.

Our Network Risk workstream is another area that has been successfully integrated into the HADMS platform with our schemes team now using it on a daily basis. The aim of this workstream was to better understand risk, collision and crash data on our road networks to improve road schemes at all stages.

To help our schemes team, we have also trialled Vivacity traffic monitoring cameras. In 2020, we installed 32 of their cameras in eight locations across Kent. The cameras capture different types of vehicles, their movements, and any near miss collisions. These devices are also in daily use. 

Over the course of the project, we’ve worked with our drainage teams to roll out the ‘Smart Gullies’ project. Drainage sensors across several different sites in Kent monitor gully conditions to ensure that they are kept clear of debris and we evaluate how this affects cleansing schedules. Although we will not be using these sensors in our operational delivery at this stage, the work we have done on a risk-based approach to drainage is being implemented. We have now rolled out the Kaarbontech drainage asset management system across our drainage team.

Since September 2020, we have been looking at pothole detection using devices placed on our highway inspectors’ windscreens. These devices track potholes and road defects whilst inspectors are driving across the county on other jobs. We have been joint working with a new company called Route Reports, who have also been developing their own dashboard so that we can better monitor the data from the devices. The validation of this system will be carried out in comparison with a similar system and the results of highway inspections during the summer of 2022.

Drone technology has been another great success of ours. We have completed two phases of these trials, both funded by our Kent Lane Rental fund. Completed in 2020, Phase 1 focused on pothole and road degradation in a car park in our Kent showground. Phase 2, which was carried out over a live carriageway and completed in 2021, again looked at road degradation, but also at canopy coverage and utility assets. We are now in the process of looking at a potential Phase 3, which would be similar in scope to Phase 2 but over a high-speed road. We will keep you all updated on progress.

Now that the Live Labs project has come to an end, the Kent and Amey team are still keen to continue the innovation work we started and introduce new ideas to the business. As well as continuing our work developing the HADMS platform, the Vivacity traffic monitoring cameras have now become business as usual, with our schemes team taking over the maintenance of the devices. The Kaarbontech asset management system trialled with our drainage team has now become a tool in regular use and will be developed further. 

We have developed a pipeline of potential innovations and ideas for the future which we will continue to review and look for different methods of funding. We look forward to keeping everyone in the loop with what Kent gets up to over the next year.