In February 2015, the UK Department of Transport (DfT) launched the Highways Network Project with the aim to create an accurate view of the entire road network. The £3 million mapping project is an important step towards TN-ITS implementation that will play an invaluable role in transforming road improvements and maintenance as well as in determining policy and legislation.

For the first time ever, the Highways Network Project brings together intelligence from two main sources of spatial road data in the UK: the Integrated Transportation Network (ITN) and the National Street Gazetteer (NSG). The combined road database is supplemented by other information available to the government to create a common authoritative road network database.

ITN, which is managed by Great Britain’s national mapping agency Ordnance Survey, is the primary source for geographic information. Collected by one organisation using a single standard, the highly accurate information comprises two themes: Roads Network and Road Routing Information. Link-and-node structures with unique identifiers are mapped extensively. The data, which is published every six weeks, covers the whole of Great Britain.

NSG, managed by GeoPlace, collects street information from 174 Local Highway Authorities, Highways England and the Welsh government. It is the definitive source of street information with data sourced directly from Local Authorities, who are legally required to update their records. The information is published monthly, exclusively to organisations with a statutory duty to coordinate street works activities. NSG coverage extends to England and Wales.

A highly accurate representation of the road network is crucial for the DfT to manage policies, produce statistics, allocate funding, support legislation and fulfil EU commitments. EU ITS Directive delegated regulations mainly apply to the Trans European Road Network (TERN) part of the TENT (Trans-European Transport Network). Approximately 68% of the entire motorway network in Great Britain is classified as TENT.

National Assessment of Compliance

The new digital road map created by the cooperation between OS and GeoPlace is now part of the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA), which is a collective agreement between OS and the government allowing all areas of the public sector to access and share the data. The private sector may also be involved in the future as the project expands towards full TN-ITS implementation.

The intention is that the digitised data will be made available to map makers in TN-ITS format, which will embed all changes and information from Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) placed by highway authorities. Technical expert at the Traffic and Technology Division of the DfT, Suku Phull, says that DfT, as a partner in the TN-ITS platform, also sees great value in the digitisation of the road network for the future of Connected and Autonomous Driving. A proof of concept demonstrating the value is currently being implemented in the cities of Hull and Nottingham.

A suggested software architecture for data capture and dissemination