A NEW JOB, NEW INDUSTRY AND A NEW PERSPECTIVE
I joined Yotta in the middle of June, coming from an education background. Since then it has been a crash course in everything highways and asset management. Leaving a profession congested with acronyms, I somehow managed to enter one with a plethora of its own. Having to quickly get to grips with what RCI, HRA, GIS, IRI, HMEP and many more before lunch on day one. Having spent five years in secondary education teaching Physics I fortunately had experience in dealing with government legislation and local authority finance structures, which was invaluable in the first days and weeks.
Within all public or private organisations, a data driven evidence based approach is at the forefront of continual improvement, whether it is the progress of pupils or the condition of the road network. This is reflected with the DfT creating the incentive fund and a culture of accountability and value being at the foundations of highways maintenance.
Before I was exposed to this I shared a quite negative view on this value as a motorist and a cyclist, where road works have a perception of inconvenience, not improvement in the network’s performance. My short time in the industry has highlighted the pressures and stresses on Local Authorities in maintaining the current condition of their network, when in fact improvements need to be made in order to improve public opinion and support our economy. All of this needs to be delivered with further reductions to budgets, and a common story of restructure and redundancy coming from the highways sectors of many Local Authorities.
The cycle of using data to inform maintenance strategy resonates with me from my teaching background. While in education I was responsible for monitoring performance data on students who were under achieving and then intervening with the right support to ensure the pupils could fulfil their potential. I realised that the quality and use of this data was an essential part to the success of the pupils. Inaccuracy in the data or not identifying the correct intervention points would severely affect the outcomes. In the highways industry the same could be said for the data we collect and utilise.
At Yotta we are positioning ourselves exceptionally well to meet these needs for our current and future clients. Working in depth on the Horizons software, the potential uses for this system are wide reaching. I was surprised how progressive some Local Authorities are with their Asset Management, utilising the system from engineers and asset managers on the ground, to heads of service and councillors. The flexibility of the system allows for a diverse range of uses, and we have Local Authorities looking at a whole variety of data from their networks inclusive of gully systems for drainage, lighting efficiency systems, accident data and census data to name a few.
The Horizons system has seen recent success in Holland, Australia and New Zealand. This demonstrates the flexibility of the system and in set up and application, as well as the strength of Yotta and the technical/development expertise. A very exciting prospect for me in a new role at a new company. It will be interesting to see how the future of our highways evolves, where driverless cars, solar and plastic roads, self-healing concrete and various smart technologies are driving innovation to shape the future of the world’s road networks.
By Andrew Dixon