Opinion

Highways UK – Day 2 of 2

 

Continuing from day 1 it was time to head back to the NEC and straight to the “Let’s Talk New Mobility” presentation, courtesy of Rachel Skinner and Ian Patey (WSP) in the good old Dynniq Dome.

Here, Rachel and Ian provided a detailed look at their latest research, culminating in the release of the New Mobility whitepaper whilst exploring new business models and associated approaches in order to transition to automated, connected, shared and electric vehicles. An animated and interesting presentation that was enjoyed by the enthusiastic crowd.

Stopping to enjoy a VR demo from the Arup team, teleporting my way around a lengthy road and bridge scheme before experiencing their impressive noise pollution software (a marriage between the two technologies seems very likely) I made it to the “How a Strategic Approach to Asset Management Makes a Difference” talk.

Here, Warren Bradley (Strategic Asset Management Account Leader, Mott MacDonald) used the Carillion Theatre to deliver a forthright presentation that explored the detailed migration from PAS 55 to ISO 55000. Mottmac and Balfour Beatty being the first JV in the field to achieve PAS 55 accreditation. The key challenges and approaches faced by the industry and the network operators were dissected and outlined. I then enjoyed watching the other visitors engage with the VR technologies available on the Mott Macdonald stand whilst chatting to a keen member of their enthusiastic team.

“Cooperative Technologies - Empowering the Urban Traffic Operator” saw Dynniq’s Innovation and Strategy Manager (Ben Miller) pleasantly outline how cooperative technologies will help traffic managers going forward, immeasurably, whilst looking at how new sources of data can unlock new disruption management strategies. A discussion in the Q&A that followed concerned data privacy and the permissions that may be needed to track a user's whereabouts from A to B, which kickstarted an entirely separate article here.

The BBC’s Richard Westcott presided over the “Challenging Ideas on the Future of Mobility” panel, which included James Nicholson (UK Automotive Lead, EY), Neil Conway (Chief Executive UK Operations, emovis), Andy Pascoe (Business Development Director, McLaren Applied Technologies) and Russell Phillippe (Founder, Travel Tech Week). This was a very informative and polished event that saw a busy crowd kept suitably engaged whilst Richard and the audience posed exploratory questions. Andy elaborating on the future of a single service provider taking care of your entire journey from A to B via a single/monthly payment that spans many vehicle technologies. A well chosen panel indeed and a successful event.

Next was a torturous decision between “Unlocking Benefits and Opportunities through Digital Asset Management (Atkins)” and “Beyond Conventional Asset Data (TRL)” and I chose the former simply because it was nearer. Although I would have loved to have seen both.

I made a good choice anyway as Tony Meehan (Consultancy Practice Director, Atkins) gave a superb overview with a confidence that can only come from years in the presentation game. Tony explored the differences of data emphasis and priority among constructors providers and operators and that asset management is a very fast growing area. The importance of using DAM, or (Digitally Enabled Asset Management) to drive outcomes, especially in relation to existing assets, were topics that were considered before a keen Q&A erupted.    

Just before my train was due I managed to squeeze in Nick Boyle’s (Technical Solutions Director, Balfour Beatty Major Projects) “Innovation 2050 - A Digital Future for the Infrastructure Industry” presentation. This was a very slick affair that used excellent graphics and a considered and measured tone to really shine a light on new and emerging technologies underpinned by BB’s view of the future. Whilst I think that the robot operatives would be faster than shown (above) the zest within which this technology has been absorbed on site was pleasing and exciting to see. A great deal of promise in this realm indeed and BB are clearly making great strides.

So there you go. It will come as no surprise that I chose the more technologically biased of the offerings but the range of events taking place really did seem to cater to all tastes. Not all presentations were as smooth as they could be (why on earth the guy behind the desk was tasked with launching the slideshows and the videos escapes me) but any minor hiccups were skilfully brushed aside when they rarely occurred on the day.

Highly recommended, already looking forward to next year.

 

 If you attended then of course please feel free to comment or add an account of your own.

 

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