Posted on 14 October 2015
Innovate UK has awarded the York/Gaist Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) a certificate of excellence for a project that uses sophisticated deterioration and financial modelling techniques to help local authorities to ensure more effective maintenance of roads, pavements, and other publicly owned assets such as street furniture, parkland and drainage.
Funded through Innovate UK, the York/Gaist KTP involves researchers from the University’s York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA) working with specialists from Gaist Solutions Ltd. Developing computerised information management and decision support systems, they use geolocated condition data to achieve more effective strategic and operational planning of public assets.
Combining condition and maintenance data from a wide range of sources and using an unprecedented level of accuracy and a real-time update mechanism, the system helps the effective targeting of scarce resources.
Conventional methodology, data interpretation and national reporting in UK road surveying has led to ‘short-termism’ in maintenance and financial planning. The York/Gaist KTP system simulates the long term effects (25 years +) of any particular maintenance strategy under consideration by a local authority and also calculates the optimal long-term maintenance regime that will cost the least to deliver and return the best network performance.
This robust information gives the authority confidence in the asset management strategy they are delivering, helps communicate the effects of underfunding to elected members, and underpins cases for increased funding or borrowing. This has led to business cases for investment by Gaist’s clients totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.
Steve Berry OBE, Head of Local Highways Maintenance at the Department for Transport said "I welcome the Innovate UK assessment of 'Outstanding' for the Knowledge Transfer Partnership between University of York and Gaist Solutions Ltd on its Highways Deterioration Model.
“The Department for Transport recognises this achievement and the hard work by the team involved. We want to continue working with Gaist and others to assist Local Highways Authorities to better understand their local highway infrastructure assets and improve the condition of the local road network for all road users."
Gaist is now in talks with the Department for Transport who are evaluating the system for their own use and KTP Associate, Dr Stephen Remde, has been recruited as the company’s Director of Innovation and Research to continue driving innovation into the business.
Professor Peter Cowling, from the University of York’s Department of Computer Science, who is based in YCCSA, said: “We are enormously proud to receive this award. The KTP has provided a revolutionary new way of looking at road maintenance with local councils borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds based on the models, algorithms and IT decision support systems created in this project.”
Steve Birdsall, Gaist Managing Director, added: “The outcomes achieved in terms of business growth, improved use of public funds, knowledge transfer and research were due to the fantastic partnership between University of York and Gaist Solutions Ltd and could not have been achieved without it.”
Gaist Solutions Ltd will continue the strong relationship with the University of York with a second KTP looking at new techniques in computer vision to aid the assessment of road conditions. Gaist Solutions Ltd. is also a partner in the new University of York-led £18 million Digital Creativity Hub.