Four of the five local authorities in the Tyne & Wear region: (Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Tyneside) source highways asset management services from Yotta. All four are operationally independent but also work collaboratively as part of the Tyne & Wear group; the North East Combined Authority group (NECA) and the Tyneside and Teesside group.
This collaboration makes sense, not just because of the councils’ geographical proximity but also because their road network lengths and usage levels are similar.
Yotta has a longstanding relationship of between ten-to-fifteen years with these councils. In each case, it began with UKPMS highway surveys Yotta conducted, either manually, or through hi-tech road surface scanners, as part of a term contract arranged by the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO). These surveys focused on collecting information on everything from road condition to street furniture, highway drainage and street lighting.
Recently, as the volume of data the councils can access has escalated, the relationship with Yotta has evolved. To help to manage, maintain and analyse the road condition data gathered in its surveys, Yotta has provided three of the authorities: (Gateshead; Sunderland and South Tyneside) with the Yotta Asset Management System, here comprising its flagship visualised asset management solution, Horizons, together with, in the case of Gateshead, key modules from its complementary Mayrise asset management suite.
The drivers for implementing the Yotta Asset Management System were different for each council. Sunderland wanted to use Horizons as a visualised repository for their data – effectively as a tool for viewing asset inventory information collected from Yotta surveys. Gateshead tendered for a full Yotta Asset Management System suite incorporating Horizons and three Mayrise modules: Highways; Street Lighting and Street Works. For South Tyneside, the main driver was the need to overhaul asset management best practice together with forward-looking investment scenario planning. Just as in Sunderland, Horizons was the only element of the Asset Management System implemented.
Like most local authorities, all four councils are actively focused on achieving asset management best practice and then using that enhanced capability and approach to maximise government funding. The survey work Yotta carries out provides a critical foundation to this process. It enables the councils to gather key data. Typically, Yotta will then analyse that data and produce a road condition index rating for each council which has to be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) annually. The combination of the data Yotta collects coupled with the experience and expertise it has built up by working with the Tyne & Wear authorities over the past decade enables them to offer additional services and this has been a great benefit to Gateshead Council.
As Jimmy Young, the council’s Highway & Flood, Risk Management, Team Leader, explains: “they do the survey and then they analyse the results. The years of experience Yotta has enable them to offer an accurate explanation of any anomalies and to clearly outline the reasons why results differ from expectations. On top of this, they can offer additional services on a one-off basis to supplement the work in the term contract. This might be a comparison of this year’s survey with years gone by; it might be bringing enhanced GIS capability to enable us to analyse the data ourselves more flexibly, or it might simply be additional consultancy and professional services provision.”
“Over the last decade, we have developed a close, trust-based working relationship with Yotta. The extensive experience and far-reaching expertise they have built up on our highways network is invaluable to us. The key benefit is fast time to insight. Yotta has already demonstrated their ability to deliver this by plotting different road investment scenarios and analysing their likely impact. We have confidence in their knowledge of our data; the agility of their software and their ability to analyse market trends and deliver accurate, well-informed advice. Thanks to Yotta, we have made great strides towards achieving asset management best practice and to maximising our share of the Government’s Incentive Fund.”
Jimmy Young, Highway & Flood Risk Management Team Leader, Gateshead Council
One of the key uses for the Yotta Asset Management System since implementation has been in helping the councils to align themselves more closely with the Highway Infrastructure Asset Management (HIAM) Guidance, issued by the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) with an end objective of moving up the bands stipulated in the Government’s Incentive Fund. With limited resources at their disposal and revenue budgets reducing, many local authorities struggle to do this on their own. Working with other councils brings benefits in this context. The other key advantage they have is being able to draw on the expertise that Yotta has gleaned over a decade of delivering road condition surveys for the councils.
In line with the HMEP guidance, Yotta began the process by undertaking a full Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) review with three of the four authorities. This enabled the councils to satisfy key areas of the Government’s Incentive Fund stipulations to successfully achieve a Level 2 banding. Yotta ensured that the HAMP review included the production of a policy and strategy, which was signed off at senior level – a primary requirement within the Incentive Fund. Added to that, the HMEP guidance review addressed most of the questions within the Incentive Fund questionnaire. Yotta and the councils together met the requirements for some of these questions simply by supplying additional documentation, others required extra work and analysis.
In practice, South Tyneside has fulfilled its original plans for the Yotta Asset Management System by using Horizons primarily to support the case for making investments in its highways network and showing the impact that reductions and increases in funding might have. South Tyneside is also using the solution for incentive fund development and through the use of Horizons. Yotta is focused on supporting the council’s bid to move from Band 2 to Band 3 in time for the 2017/18 submission.
Sunderland and Gateshead councils are also using Yotta’s Horizons for Incentive Fund development and to support asset management best practice – although Gateshead has to date used the viewing capability of the visualised asset management software, only.
Optimising Asset Management through Professional Services
The ongoing process of working with the Tyne & Wear authorities has enabled Yotta to gather large volumes of data on the councils’ behalf, including details of national indicators and information about condition analysis. This has helped to inform not just the prioritisation of works on the network but also Yotta’s push to align the councils with Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) best practice and support their bids for funding.
Yotta’s professional services offering has been key in helping each authority to achieve a best practice position tailored to its own specific needs.
The councils are looking to adapt the regular condition surveys that Yotta runs for them and advance the way they are using the software in order to achieve even greater levels of insight that can then feed into asset management best practice and lifecycle planning. They are also planning to increase the number of assets that they analyse in order to better understand the impact of different funding scenarios on the different asset groups. Yotta is likely to play a key role once again in helping the councils to achieve their key goals. Its ten years of experience of learning from the councils will continue to enable Yotta to rapidly adapt its survey, software and professional services to meet their evolving needs.