Highways England SRN Simulation Sprint

Highways England (HE) have commissioned the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) to develop a prototype simulation of the entire Strategic Road Network (SRN).

As part of this project we investigated the user needs of a visionary large scale simulation platform and identified those that could be developed beyond this prototype project to support Highways England operations. The TSC has collaborated with a number of partners to deliver this innovative project.

Key Outcomes

  • Technical Feasibility
    Through this project we have demonstrated that it is technically feasible to develop, deploy and run a national scale traffic simulation on a distributed computing platform – an industry first.

 

  • Accelerated Development
    This project has delivered a prototype of a national simulation of the HE road network over a six week period. To place that in context, it has taken HE’s consultants over two years to develop their current ‘regional’ traffic models.

 

  • Significantly Accelerated Model Run Times
    Hosting the model on a cloud based distributed platform means that the only constraint on run-time performance is costs, i.e. how many cores do you want to bring online to work on the simulation. Simulation model able to provide results virtually instantaneously, a significant improvement on typical half day run-times
    on the very latest generation of large scale models.

 

  • New Ways of Working (for HE)
    This project was run using ‘Agile’ project management techniques. In this way of working we ‘Sprint’ to develop a minimum viable product and then develop iteratively on top of that to add additional functionality and capabilities. This project has run a series of three two-week sprints.

 

  • Real collaboration team working
    Significant periods of co-location of the client and project team has paid dividends in terms of enabling the acceleration of the development process and creating a sense of shared ownership of the project outcomes.

Next Steps

  • Exploring potential for integrating other data sources and models into the platform.
  • Exploring potential of developing a national simulation with Network Rail
  • The national SRN simulation is an open platform which is able to ingest and connect to many other data sources and models.
  • The national SRN simulation has the potential to fundamentally change the way in which HE manage and operate their network. The simulation will allow real-time data feeds and ‘what-if’ decision support tools to be used in an operational environment. This will enable HE control rooms to start to work pro-actively to manage traffic flows rather than re-actively at present.
  • This simulation platform can also cover other networks, such as local authority roads, and bring similar benefits.

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