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Looking for holes

Alliance NSG Exemplar Award Runner-up – Best streetworks application 2008: Kent Highway Services.

Councillors, citizen surveys, media monitoring and call centre records consistently identify and monitor the efficient and effective repair of potholes and other road defects in Kent as a prime concern.

With over 8,000 kilometres of highway to inspect and maintain, Kent Highway Services Alliance already relies on the National Street Gazetteer to facilitate the timely identification and prompt repair of defects. The Kent NSG was therefore an obvious resource on which to build a review of the service delivery.

Kent’s level 3 NSG was used to validate road category information (on which the existing inspection regime had been based) identify and display current inspection routes and engage with staff at the frontline of service delivery to devise new routes, ensuring best practice and ownership of the new schedule.


The initial stage of the project was a review of road hierarchy information to ensure validity and regulatory compliance. This gave Kent Highway Services Alliance an accurate and up to date base for the review of Inspection Routines. The network hierarchy information was appended to a GIS layer, mapped to the junction-tojunction Elementary Street Unit (ESU) building blocks of the level 3 NSG, and individual coverage maps were used to communicate directly with local inspection teams.

ESU based inspection routes were the subject of a number of interactive local team meetings where they were projected, discussed, debated, tweaked, validated and finally agreed - all during the course of a single meeting. The finalised routes were immediately printed and distributed to all interested parties in confirmation. It was important to the Kent Highway Services Alliance that the process to review and implement the revised routes was ‘sell not tell’, resulting in universal ‘buy in’ achieved during the interactive sessions, and underpinned by the NSG.

It is after completion of the review of Kent’s Highways Inspection programme, with all ‘strategically important’ and ‘other strategic’ routes implemented and the adoption of new routes for ‘locally important’ and ‘minor’ routes imminent, that the realisation of benefits begins. Following this revamp of frontline service delivery the Kent Highway Services Alliance plans to implement a seamless end-to-end system to improve the service level of road defect repairs. This will include reports from the call centre being instantly routed to the hand held devices used by inspectors in the field. The same devices will be used to record findings and generate works orders to contractors, all in real time and all based on Unique Street Reference Numbers from the Kent NSG. In addition this automated process will facilitate the provision of information to citizens, provide metrics to substantiate an efficient and effective response, and evidence of regulatory compliance and best endeavour for use in consideration of insurance claims.

Key benefits

  • An improved road defect repair service resulting in improved customer satisfaction and better value for money service delivery.
  • Significant improvements in staff productivity, speed and cost of administration, improved response times and reduced exposure to insurance claims.
  • Adoption of new working practices and technology to facilitate joined up working between frontline staff, service delivery operatives and back office systems, resulting in an improved customer centric service.
  • A sustainable end to process based on the NSG and ‘bottom up’ data input that is flexible and scaleable to allow for future changes to the highway network and/or government legislation.
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