The London Borough of Southwark in South London forms part of Inner London and is connected by bridges across the River Thames to the City of London. It was created in 1965 when three smaller council areas amalgamated under the London Government Act 1963.
Like all highway authorities, the London Borough of Southwark is moving to a risk-based approach to its highways planning and delivery. This is to meet the objectives of the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure: A code of Practice which came into force in October 2018. Southwark Council also has a Movement Plan, which sets out the direction for transport in the borough in the future. The plan promotes walking as a cheaper alternative for lower income households as well as helping tackle obesity, helping mental wellbeing being and reducing pollution. This requires well maintained footways and more frequent footway inspections, as a result.
Generally, the footways in Southwark were inspected annually and carriageways every six months which is not in line with other highway authorities but needs to be.
Southwark has also made significant progress with the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure: A code of Practice, which has 36 recommendations, 31 of which Southwark is already compliant with.
Previously, Southwark relied on DVI and SCANNER surveys for its asset management data collection but that brought it challenges with a 20mph speed limit on a large proportion of the borough’s network.
“The way our road network is set out and the fact that there are many roads on 20 mph limits therefore it is difficult to get SCANNER to do what we need it to. We tried walked DVI surveys as well, but we were still not 100% confident in it,” says Graeme Lake, Asset and Technical Manager at Southwark Council. “I have always felt that a camera survey would be a much more effective way of enabling us to have a much more detailed approach to our surveying so we could build up a more accurate approach to our network,” he added.
Gaist started working with Southwark to achieve a quick and efficient camera survey which instantly produced good data. “I used the Gaist data and Assetstream to work with our traffic manager to overlay the data with detail on permits and utility reinstatements to give us a better idea of what parts of the network were in really poor conditions and how that relates to where the reinstatements are to help drive up utility compliance and avoid further unnecessary costs ourselves,” says Mr Lake.
At this point, Southwark were able to build an accurate picture of the condition and therefore the deterioration of the network. “Gaist’s data enable us to see the exact part of the network that was damaged-really small sections. Having Asset Stream means we can target repairs rather than an inefficient blanket-approach to repairing a whole road,” says Mr Lake. “The survey also gives a better understanding of the defects we have and how we go about planning to treat them, which could be in more efficient ways than we have done before.”
As well as the traffic management department, he is also working with the parking team at Southwark, to better understand the conditions of the car parks as well. “This data is also helping us understand what we need to do as part of our white-lining refreshment programme. It means we can pool our resources and budgets to be more efficient operationally across the different parts of the networks and across different teams that work on it. The Gaist survey and systems have worked out nearly two-thirds cheaper than anything else we have done in the past, yet we get more detailed and accurate data and more efficiency.”
The images that can be taken from the survey, can also be used to explain to members or the public why certain roads are being prioritised. “For the first time, we have proper evidence to back it up,” says Mr Lake. A full financial plan can also be done now to accurately reflect what is needed in terms of funding moving forwards. “The priority first is to complete work on our Well Managed Highway Infrastructure and then we will build our financial argument for the future,” he adds. The plan after that is to also complete a full asset inventory programme as well. “Things have changed on the network since we undertook quite an extensive de-cluttering programme so more detail on what we have left and the condition of it, would prove very useful indeed.”
“This data is also helping us understand what we need to do as part of our white-lining refreshment programme. It means we can pool our resources and budgets to be more efficient operationally across the different parts of the networks and across different teams that work on it. The Gaist survey and systems have worked out nearly two-thirds cheaper than anything else we have done in the past, yet we get more detailed and accurate data and more efficiency.”
Graeme Lake, Asset and Technical Manager at Southwark Council.