Cloud keeps UK traffic on the move

Sopra Steria is introducing the new digital infrastructure for National Highways' NTIS
Detection, Monitoring & Machine Vision / November 23, 2021
By Ben Spencer
National Highways digital infrastructure motorways major A roads Sopra Steria
National Highways will be able to share information on congestion with road users (© Gorgios |

National Highways has introduced digital infrastructure to its national traffic information service (NTIS) to ensure reliable information is available on UK motorways and major A roads. 

National Highways says the service provides information that is vital to help its operations teams and emergency services respond to incidents as efficiently as possible and to keep traffic moving.

According to the agency, it also helps road users plan their journeys, avoid delays and stay safe by supplying the latest information to electronic message signs on the network and journey planning digital platforms.

Under the new digital infrastructure, National Highways’ operations data is being transferred from a legacy to cloud infrastructure for the first time. Harnessing the cloud is expected to allow the agency to better collect the data needed to “transform” how the network is operated. 

Alongside this, the former Highways England company will be able to share information with road users regarding planned works, delays or any other congestion which may impact their journey. 

Digital transformation company Sopra Steria has been appointed to introduce the new system for NTIS over the next five years.

The new system will support the creation of a digital twin representation of the strategic road network (SRN). 

This will be used to map out motorways and major A roads in England digitally and will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict the conditions of the roads up to 24 hours in advance.

According to National Highways, this will help to reduce the impact of roadworks, football matches and road collisions by improving the management of the road network through increased automation and enabling users to better plan their journeys. 

Additionally, TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) is to work with IT service provider Version 1 to migrate National Highways’ Smart Motorway Calibration and Optimisation (SMCALO) software and services toolkit to the cloud.

SMCALO is a web-based service that enables National Highways to visualise traffic and signal data and monitor parameters such as traffic speeds and flow. It also helps calculate the thresholds for automatic signals to ensure variable speed limits are only on when needed. The software also identifies performance issues with detectors and records when signals are showing.

National Highways insists the new cloud-based solution will enable new data sources to be incorporated and offer easy access to SMCALO data. 

Davin Crowley-Sweet, National Highways chief data officer, says: “We are ensuring people using our roads are better informed and have trust in the journey information they access from us, so that they feel safe and in control of their journeys.

“While today most of our customers are humans informed by data and technology, the increasing amount of connected and autonomous vehicle (C/AV) technology used in private and commercial vehicles could mean a future of providing data to self-driving systems. We must understand this direction and be prepared.”

For more information on companies in this article