PA Consulting and O2 to improve road user experience

27 November 2019 3 min. read

A partnership of PA Consulting and communications group O2 have taken part in a ‘hackathon’ to help the roads industry solve some of its most critical challenges. The event aimed at improving collaboration between the engineering and technology sectors in order to improve the road user experience of the UK. 

British roads could stand on the verge of a revolution in personal transport. With the UK Government becoming the latest to name 2040 as the cut-off point for the sale of new petrol and diesel fuelled transport, manufacturers are finally beginning to prioritise the next generation of electronic vehicles (EVs), presenting new challenges for companies, governments, and drivers themselves.

This places Britain’s roads under significant structural strain, and the Highways Agency has already had to commit to a major infrastructure programme to ensure that drivers are never more than 20 miles from a charging point on the UK’s A roads.

On top of this, critical challenges, from congestion and maintenance to poor air quality remain for the UK’s roads industry. In order to help navigate the sector’s most pressing issues, professional services firm PA Consulting has partnered with O2 to organise an industry hackathon for this year’s Highways UK event, running in Birmingham in November.

PA Consulting and O2 to improve road user experience

A hackathon is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including domain experts, collaborate intensively on software projects. PA and O2’s ‘Hack the Highways’ event will bring roads, automotive, telecoms and technology sectors together with more traditional engineering and construction firms to create an integrated approach to solving some of the roads sector’s most complex problems.

By encouraging this kind of collaboration, the initiative will help to break down barriers and silos that have been a problem for the roads supply chain in the past. At the same time, the hackathon aimed to explore how anonymised, aggregated mobile phone data about the journeys we make can help the roads industry solve. It saw participants work with data scientists, behavioural psychologists and engineers to capture 140 million anonymous road user journeys, and a range of other open data sources from Highways England, the Met Office and other data providers.

Charlie Henderson, Head of Roads at PA Consulting, said, “Collaboration between industry and exploiting data are vital to solving the big challenges in transport. The hackathon is not a competition, but a unique opportunity to work with individuals from many organisations such as Highways England, WSP, TFL to come up with ingenious solutions that will make a real difference for road users.”

Dave Sweeney, Director at O2 Motion, added, “Anonymous crowd data can help transport providers deliver better customer service, so it’s really interesting to be working on this project with PA Consulting. It fits with our shared aim of improving the way people in the UK travel and we’re excited to see how the new technologies and partners brought together here can further enhance road travel across the country.”