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Somerset Highways is celebrating success in winning two national top industry awards for its leading road maintenan...
Somerset Highways is celebrating success in winning two national top industry awards for its leading road maintenance system which uses satellite technology and lorry cab computers.

The awards were scooped by Somerset Highways - a partnership between Somerset CC and Atkins - who have used the cutting-edge technology to transform the way the county's 4000 mile road network is maintained and cut costs by 10 per cent.

Somerset Highways was presented with the Institution of Highways and Transportation Award for Technological Application (IHT) and the county surveyor's Society Information Management Excellence Award.

Tony Shire, Somerset CC's portfolio holder for highways, said: 'I am delighted that this truly ground breaking work has been recognised by industry experts.

'Somerset is literally leading the way. To win top awards from two professional associations in a week is a magnificent achievement.

'These honours underline the very good working relationship that has been developed between both sides of the partnership and the innovation and quality of the services it delivers.'

The awards recognise the importance of a new state-of-the-art control centre in Taunton which enables maintenance teams to work more efficiently and productively than ever before.

Since it opened in November, the project has brought about a 30 per cent reduction in materials, an overall cost saving of 10 per cent and a significant improvement in 'on site' health and safety.

The IHT award recognises excellence in the application of technology within the highways and transportation industry where a marked, positive benefit has been achieved.

Judges highlighted 'a well put together entry' which helped Somerset Highways to scoop the awards.

The control room pinpoints the exact position of all road crews using GPS [global positioning system] and assignments are passed to crews via on board computers.

Computer-aided accuracy and efficiency underline the way in which Somerset Highways now tackles jobs ranging from salting to gully emptying and mending pot holes.

Mr Shire added: 'People in Somerset are receiving a better service thanks to this innovative deployment of technology. Everyone - from the highway inspectors to the road crews and the control room staff - are able to work more efficiently, which in turn improves performance and value-for-money.'

Atkins, a private company contracted by the county council, has taken a previously low-tech service and has used integrated satellite tracking and process management software to run the service more smoothly than ever before.

John Burr, of Atkins, said the software made use of the latest communications techniques to improve the complex task of road maintenance.

'The benefits of this new system are far reaching,' he added. 'We are able to improve efficiency and productivity at a reduced cost to the county council and also improve the safety for those working on the roads.'

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