Sopra Steria wins Highways England National Traffic Information Service deal after £8m falls off contract value

Platform to handle data from roadside sensors and in-vehicle systems

Sopra Steria has won a £42m contract from Highways England to upgrade the National Traffic Information Service to help keep travellers on the move throughout the country's 4,300 miles (6,920km) of strategic road network.

Originally mooted at £50m in the prior information notice from last March, the price of the total contract climbed to a potential £62m in May when the contract notice said the duration of the work could be extended from five to seven years.

Now at the award phase, the transport agency has shaved £8.2m off the expected price of £50m, although the duration still stands at five years, plus options to extend by two years.

The Register has asked Highways England to explain the change in the contract price.

Sat-nav firms are big users of traffic data but others include third-party road data aggregators, traffic information service providers, road industry representatives, other government and local authority agencies, freight sector representatives, and operators.

Dating back to 2011, the service is intended to offer a continuous data feed to help drivers plan their journeys and avoid delays. The data also helps agency teams handle planned and unplanned "traffic events" on the strategic road network. Over time data is used to help measure network performance and plan for future changes.

In addition, the new system will collect "traffic event information from multiple data sources including third party in-vehicle data and over 10,000 roadside sensors," according to the contract notice. The idea is to publish traffic information and travel advice to Highways England's roadside LED signs, the service's website and mobile phone apps and data feed APIs, it said.

After a two-year transition period, the new service is expected to offer "improved availability and reliability of traffic data and information for Highways England's customers and internal business functions." It is also expected to provide "an adaptable and scalable IT system that will enable Highways England to meet its evolving traffic information needs and make best use of automation to streamline the need for manual intervention."

Meanwhile, Sopra Steria should remove "under-used traffic data sources, including automatic number-plate recognition" and "under-used output channels such as event emails," the contract notice said.

The prior information notice specifies a "flexible and scalable cloud-based IT system," although the contract award makes no mention of the fluffy hyperscale computing infrastructure.

Earlier this year, a Highway England spokeswoman told The Register the new system would continue to support for DATEX II, the European Union standard for traffic data, which feeds the agencies data into Google Maps. ®

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