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Improving the management of public assets with Gaist Solutions Ltd

200w - Steve Birdsall, Gaist & Will Britain, Blackpool City Council

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the University of York and technology company Gaist Solutions Ltd is successfully extending the life of the UK’s public infrastructure assets by using sophisticated deterioration modelling technology to ensure more effective maintenance of roads, pavements, street furniture, parkland and drainage.‌

Gaist Solutions Ltd specialises in consultancy and technology solutions for strategic and emergency management of assets, project management, cost management and consulting across the infrastructure, and emergency services.

The University of York/Gaist Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) involves the use of sophisticated modelling techniques to test the validity of maintenance plans, fix the right roads at the right time and predict long-term, future budget needs. Researchers from the University’s York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA) work with specialists from Gaist Solutions to combine condition and maintenance data from a wide range of sources and by using an unprecedented level of accuracy and a real-time update mechanism, they are able to ensure the effective targeting of ever scarcer resources.

Developing a revolutionary breakthrough in road surveys with Gaist Solutions Ltd, KTP2



Gaist Solutions Ltd

A recent survey, which involved 116 local authorities, found that overall views about the condition of highways in the UK are still at near record low levels. Gaist’s client Blackpool Borough Council bucked the trend, gaining the largest improvement for overall satisfaction, tackling congestion and road safety while also gaining the best overall score for road safety.

Due in large part to the KTP, nine Local Authorities have invested significantly in the company’s new products and services.

Currently the company is supporting Councils to produce business cases for additional capital investment of over £400,000,000, made possible by the modelling capability delivered by KTP Associate Dr Stephen Remde and his understanding of how the technology can be applied.

In financial terms the company has generated a 300 percent increase in turnover to £1.2 million by May 2014. These outputs were not envisaged at the start of the KTP and are predicted to continue to add massive value to the company and continue to increase company turnover and profitability.

KTP Associate

KTP Associate - Dr Stephen Remde

“During the KTP I have developed analytical tools for modelling the deterioration of highways infrastructure and simulating effect of different investment options, enabling local road authorities to have a new understanding of their infrastructure.

The KTP has allowed me to work closely with the Managing Director translating innovative ideas into practical solutions for Gaist's clients. This has required me to become fully immersed in the business at all levels giving me a new understanding of the commercial environment, before which I had little exposure.

My role required me to build relationships with many different types of clients, from highways inspectors to highways engineers to elected members - all vital to the success of the project and all of whom have different levels of understanding and expertise.

The KTP has also allowed me to develop my management skill as I now manage a team of analysts and supervise two PhD students.

I believe the KTP has enabled me to add real value to an SME with bold ideas and given me practical experience which has increased my employability significantly.”


Academic partner - Professor Peter Cowling

“This KTP has added extraordinary value from an academic standpoint. It has provided a springboard for a further 3 funded projects:

An Engineering Doctorate, co-supervised by me and the KTP Associate, Dr Stephen Remde, to investigate models and heuristics for urban road inspection and drainage maintenance. This project has already led to a publication in the leading EvoCOP conference, and a paper which we intend to submit to a top operational research journal soon.

The CAPACITIE EU-Funded Marie Curie Network, where one of 12 substantial (3 person-year) projects involves working with Gaist Solutions Ltd to investigate decision support systems and the use of games. These will be used to assist with policy decisions and public awareness relating to urban pollution.

A further postdoctoral KTP in automated vision systems for road and pavement inspection which will start later this year.

The KTP has resulted in a powerful, practical model for strategic planning of roads which has led to persuasive arguments for preventative maintenance in the road network. This paper is in preparation for submission to the top Management Science Journal as well as journals in pavement engineering.

The students have benefitted from guest lectures given by the CEO and the KTP Associate, raising their awareness of asset management problems and the fascinating technical challenges which these offer for graduates.

It is very often the case that the most interesting advances in theory come from consideration of real problems with a highly-skilled and motivated company partner. The KTP with Gaist Solutions Ltd has provided very interesting problems for theory and practice, and working together we have been able to find the financial resources to recruit the brightest and best to tackle these problems of theory and practice.”

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KTP Team Contact details:

Dr Rukmal Abeysekera
Knowledge Transfer Manager
Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange 
Ron Cooke Hub
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 32 1124