Ask the Expert: Keeping Hampshire’s roads moving

Keeping their eyes peeled on a bank of monitors for a close watch at what’s happening on Hampshire’s road network is a small team whose job is to help make us all aware when traffic is building up

Feb 28 2018

Ask the Expert: keeping Hampshire’s roads moving

Sometimes it’s a vehicle breakdown, or an accident on the motorway, a traffic signal out of action, or even ‘the usual’ peak time jams – they can all have a big impact on our ability to get from A to B.  The County Council’s ROMANSE (ROad MANagement System for Europe) team works alongside others, including BBC Radio Solent, who broadcast to 264,000 listeners in a week, and bring travellers all the latest traffic and travel news to help inform their journeys.

Andy, Highways Manager for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and Street Lighting, tells us how his ROMANSE team uses innovative technology to keep our roads moving.

“I’m responsible for Hampshire’s ITS Group, so the design, installation and maintenance of traffic control equipment; like traffic signals, signalised crossings, variable message signs, car park information and CCTV that are used to manage the road network.

The ROMANSE Traffic and Travel centre gathers information on what’s happening on the network so we can relay that to travellers. We can then provide them with accurate, timely travel information, so that they can make informed decisions about their travel. If they hear the roads are jammed, they may alter their route, take the train, or leave a little later if they can. It’s all about providing information.

The control room is open from 7am so they are ready for the rush hour.  Judy from BBC Radio Solent sits in the control room in the morning and reports live; the team will be tweeting to our 15,000 followers, putting information on the website so people can view network maps and CCTV cameras and see what’s going on. ROMANSE is essentially a travel news service, so it’s all happening now, it’s live!

It started as a research development project in 1992 to look at new ways of managing traffic, building on systems we had already established such as urban traffic control and car park information systems while introducing new ones such as real-time information at bus stops We set up a traffic and travel information website which was the first real-time information system of its kind in the country, so lots of ground breaking research was done.

How have things changed since ROMANSE started?

Generally traffic control systems have become more efficient at handing jams. We also used to use ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) for journey times, so you would see a number plate at one point on the network and then the same number plate a little way away, and calculate the journey time between the two. Nowadays we use Bluetooth® technology, which is commonly found in mobile phones, aftermarket accessories, in-car communication and audio systems so we are able to build up a journey time profile. This area of work is constantly evolving. Our equipment also lasts longer; nowadays we’d expect a signal to be in place for 20-25 years before it needs replacing.

Keep up-to-date with live traffic information by following @ROMANSE on Twitter and visiting the ROMANSE website.

Pictured – Highways Manager Andy (fourth left) with the Intelligent Transport Systems Team and Judy from BBC Radio Solent (third left).