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“This isn’t business as usual, this is business better. We fully expect to recuperate the innovation budget in savings as a result of using this technology” 

(Michael Ambrose (Technical Lead on the National Highways Concrete Roads Programme)  


The digital revolution has taken a hold on virtually every aspect of our lives and each day we witness technology branching out across all sectors and industries as they seek to raise productivity and streamline processes. Whilst the transport industry has in general profited from the digital revolution, specific areas such as highways maintenance are lagging behind, often still using pen and paper methods for data collection and analysis . This is something that National Highways is seeking to rectify with an innovative programme designed specifically for the concrete roads sector.


National Highways is investing £27.4 billion in the strategic road network (SRN) between 2020 and 2025. Digital data and technology are critical to its main objective: providing safer, smoother and more reliable journeys for its customers. 

Legacy concrete roads constitute 4% of the English strategic road network. Most were constructed over 40 years ago and are at the end of their theoretical design lives.


National Highways implemented the Concrete Roads Programme to repair and replace concrete roads over future maintenance periods and, as part of this, they are developing methods to enhance delivery efficiency and improve data quality to support long-term decision making.  

Over the past three years, KOREC Group has been working closely with National Highways (and its delivery partner Mott McDonald), with a focus on three particular areas, Mobile Mapping, Cloud based Portal adoption and Field data Capture. 

In the following three articles we aim to explain why this technology was adopted, how it was adapted to the specific demands of the programme and how the information is being used, both in the day-to-day management of the UK’s concrete roads and for future planning.  

The three papers will explain: 

  • How different technologies can be adopted, adapted and combined to overcome a range of challenges common to many large data collection projects. 

  • Why Highways England’s cloud-based, secure portal is key to the handling of the dense point cloud data generated by mobile mapping systems, why it enables better collaboration and how it can be developed to deal with future developments for even greater efficiencies. 

  • How the adoption of new methodologies can lead to the same technology being used in many new application areas as well as promoting an open mindset towards future planning processes from incremental changes to radical technological innovation! 


Article 1 - Mobile Mapping - adopt, adapt and analyse 

Mobile Mapping - adopt, adapt and analyse 

Mobile mapping is just one of the technologies adopted by National Highways to maximise the benefits of new technology for its data-driven concrete roads programme. This programme, for the improved inspection and maintenance of concrete roads, has been developed with two key aims in mind, firstly to produce immediately useful results and secondly, to be part of a larger end to end digital strategy.


Addressing the challenges 

Undertaking highway surveys is an activity that brings its own unique set of challenges: 

  • For health and safety purposes, roads historically had to be closed whilst surveyors walked the network looking for defects. This took time to plan, required traffic management and disrupted the network, severely inconveniencing road users. In a recent calculation undertaken by Michael Ambrose (Technical Lead on National Highways concrete roads programme)  when the A14 near Haughley, Cambs, was shut unexpectedly, a diversion added around 45 minutes to the journey costing road users in excess of £300k in fuel during the 8-hour closure as well as increasing carbon emissions. 

  • Defects were recorded by chainage using only pen and paper and therefore lacked an accurate position and visual detail. 

  • There was an information lag between the information being collected, transcribed, report preparation and this report being shared with different stakeholders. 

  • Collected data was effectively siloed with no single source that could be referenced by the different stakeholders. Because of this, once surveyed, the works management of the repair was disjointed. 

National Highways was aware that Building Information Models (BIM) had been successfully implemented into other industries and was therefore keen to assess what technology was available to create a single, as-built 3D model of the highway whilst minimising disruption to the network. 

The case for mobile mapping  

National Highways commissioned consultants Mott MacDonald to manage two trials in the East of England which would include the use of mobile mapping. Following an evaluation of the systems available, National Highways contracted KOREC Professional Services to survey the two selected routes using the Trimble MX9 system. Trial 1 was a 1km stretch of the A12 in Chelmsford (concrete), Trial 2 was a 1km stretch of the A12 in Mountnessing (concrete overlaid with asphalt). 

The two sites were surveyed to the National Highways specification using the MX9 Mobile Mapping system. Ground control was established every 200m using checkerboards of at least 30-50cm in size to achieve the highest absolute accuracy (although GCP’s are not required for pavement condition assessments). Data was captured by driving both carriage ways in all running lanes at normal traffic speeds of between 50 and 60mph.The surveys were executed during daytime hours to simultaneously capture high quality imagery and LiDAR point cloud and during the hours of reduced traffic flow to minimise occlusions, any data gaps and to ensure sufficient point cloud density. Adverse weather conditions such as dense snow or fog were also avoided as were any times when there were puddles on the highways.  

KOREC Professional Services vehicle with the Trimble MX9 mobile mapping system used on this project 



The collected data was processed by the KOREC Professional Services team and the point clouds matched to a relative accuracy of better than 10mm. The point cloud was then colourised using the captured georeferenced imagery and exported for use in the KOREC portal.


Specified deliverables included:  

  • RGB coloured and classified Laser point cloud  (LAS 1.4 format) 

  • 360° imagery (in georeferenced Jpeg format) 

  • Down facing imagery  

  • Down facing orthorectified and mosaiced imagery  

  • Defect survey (delivered as shape file and containing UKPMS DVI* user specified information) 

  • Toporaphic mapping 

  • Full survey report 


Post-trial findings 

National Highways were able to draw several conclusions from the two trials and these findings further backed up their belief that this type of survey would provide them with access to a complete dataset for defect extraction along with full information of a pavement condition. Furthermore, the surveys could all be completed with accuracy, speed and efficiency reducing carbon emissions, contributing to the safety of surveyors and vastly reducing disruption to road users. 

National Highways also appreciated that a single survey could have many different applications including pavement condition, geometry of roads and bridges, recording of signs and road assets and vegetation encroachment. Importantly, this method would bring repeatability which would enable managers to use the portal to access a full history of defects, points etc and interrogate collected data, for example, ‘How long is our end-of-life concreted lasting?’ and ‘How are new materials holding up?’



















A mobile mapping system comprises high-density laser scanning, a spherical high-res camera for panoramic and multi-angle imagery, and a high-precision (Global Navigation Satellite System) GNSS and IMU (inertial measurement unit) component for (satellite) positioning. The synchronisation of these sensors allows all recorded points and images to be properly aligned in post-processing. 

The Trimble MX9 is one of the most advanced systems in the world combining state-of-the-art, hardware with intuitive field software and a reliable, efficient office software workflow. The MX9 is mounted on the top of a vehicle and rapidly captures dense point clouds and images—both panoramic and multi-angle. Rich corridor data can be collected at highway speeds, significantly improving data collection on busy highways and avoiding costly lane closures. 



“One drive through with the Trimble MX9 Mobile Mapping system equals 4 or 5 walked surveys which significantly reduces the carbon footprint because there is less travel to and from the site.” 

(Michael Ambrose (Technical Lead on the National Highways Concrete Roads Programme)

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Defect examples captured by the Trimble MX9 


Different views of MX9 generated imagery on the KOREC portal 

The Trimble MX9 system combines a vehicle-mounted mobile lidar system, multi-camera imaging and field software 

Article 2 - Gateway to collaboration 

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Gateway to Collaboration 



In our first article on the National Highways Concrete Roads Programme, we took a close look at how and why Trimble’s MX9 Mobile Mapping system is being used as part of the organisation’s strategy to improve the inspection and maintenance of concrete roads through data driven technology.  

In this, our second article, we will be examining why the KOREC Portal was a deciding factor in the decision to go with KOREC and Trimble technology. We’ll also be looking at how the portal is being used to address three key questions for National Highways:


  1. How can we handle and share the dense data generated by mobile mapping systems? 

  2. How can we use this data in the office for better collaboration? 

  3. How can we use this data in the field for greater efficiency? 


Handling dense pointcloud imagery


National Highways cited the superior functionality of the KOREC developed desktop portal as one of the reasons why KOREC was selected to supply technology for the Concrete Roads Programme. The KOREC Portal is unique in its ability to handle securely the large, dense point clouds generated by any manufacturer’s mobile mapping system. This is achieved via the cloud (where information is stored on internet servers rather than your computer’s hard drive) which allows access to all permitted stakeholders across an organisation. The alternative to handling this vast amount of data would be through the use of hard disks and the costly licensed software required for managing it.  


Using the portal and a useful customisation 

Leveraging the newly collected digital data was of primary importance for National Highways. In conjunction with KOREC, a straightforward but highly functional workflow was developed to enable best use of the data by all stakeholders. Once processed and cleaned, the point cloud, video imagery and photos captured by the Trimble Mobile MX9 system (or from other manufacturer’s systems) are uploaded to the portal where the initial view is of a map of the UK clearly showing where the mobile mapping surveys have been completed. On the right of the screen is a dropdown menu for zooming in and out of specific schemes which are identified in blue on the map. An additional advantage, is that because National Highways has an OS MasterMap license, the KOREC Portal can incorporate these background maps through its managed service for even clearer viewing. All users can see and carry out basic measurements and interrogations of this data. 













The blue areas indicate complete mobile mapping surveys 


The Portal also enables users to manage field operations from the office where work can be monitored and controlled in real time. Additionally, it provides access to project progress dashboards (configured by National Highways), interactive maps, sophisticated reporting and integrated access to multiple data sources from existing asset inventories. 





Each blue dot can be clicked on for meta data such as position and time of capture 

Captured data can be viewed as either panoramic imagery or as a point cloud backed up by a video for the extraction of defects (either manually or by machine learning through software developed by Mott McDonald).


A third data set provides high quality imagery from floor focused (high-resolution road surface) cameras. However, these images can be hard to use in isolation so in order to provide each one of them with situational awareness, KOREC developed a tool to combine them into a series or chain for better orientation.













KOREC developed a tool to give each high-resolution road surface image situational awareness 


Finally, a topo map is also extracted from the point cloud which provides a useful reference of all the trees, fences, street furniture etc in the area adding value for a variety of additional tasks such as junction design.  


Portal functionality  

Previous to the introduction of a digital system, it was extremely hard for National Highways to record useful information about each defect. This meant that the concrete roads team lacked the sort of historical information that would allow them to build up a record of how, when and by whom each defect was repaired. The new system will ensure that all attribute information attached to each defect will be easily accessible for interrogation, viewing etc.   

For example, in the portal a designer can examine a section of road that has been surveyed and using one of the portal tools, draw around an area with defects, extract them and examine each one from the video and photographic imagery before deciding on the best type of repair. The record will also bring up details of any previous work on that defect. Once the repair has been validated, the designer can then upload this information back into the portal in preparation for it to be shared to a mobile device. On receiving the information, a remote contractor can use it to locate the defect and carry out the agreed format of the work.  

The dashboard can also display information in many different formats, such as pie charts, making it easy to interpret by everyone in the organisation.  All the project progress dashboards are customised to National Highways specifications for clearer interpretation. For example, each classification of defect is marked in its own colour on the map so that it is instantly recognisable.  


The designer can draw around a selected area to extract defects 

Typical dashboard information showing defects by colour 


Colourised point cloud – basic measurements can be undertaken in the portal 


Automated shift reports 

However, one of the biggest benefits for National Highways in terms of time saved is the portal’s automated generation of shift reports from information gathered on the KOREC Capture Roadway app out in the field. This simple automated feature can save hours of office time by assimilating all the information captured by the field app into a report that can sometimes be 200 pages long.  This PDF or word document can include information on scheme details, contractor information, visitor notes, weather reports, incidents and POI summaries, repairs, maps, photos etc.


The automated shift reports are a vital part of the new workflow as is the field data capture that enables their generation. Therefore our final article will look at the field-based side of the programme including the advantages of a 360° workflow that allows for real-time data collection and easy transfer of this information between the field and office. We’ll also take a further look at automated shift report generation, handling of health and safety information and lone worker functionality. 


“One drive through with the Trimble MX9 Mobile Mapping system equals 4 or 5 walked surveys which significantly reduces the carbon footprint because there is less travel to and from the site.” 

Michael Ambrose (Technical Lead on the National Highways Concrete Roads Programme)   

The standout benefit of using the KOREC portal is that it allows all stakeholders to work from a single, current data source, all held in one place and accessible from anywhere with internet access. The easy access to the portal and its attendant functionality is a key aspect in assisting full collaboration between all those working on the Concrete Roads Programme.  

Article 3 - Field data capture – completing the circle 


Field data capture - Complete the circle


In our series of articles examining the trial and adoption of innovative digital technology by National Highways as part of their Concrete Roads Programme, we have already taken a close look at Mobile Mapping for large volume data collection and use of the online KOREC Portal for managing and sharing data. In this, our third article, we will be moving out of the office and back into the field to establish how National Highways has created a full circle of field/office digital data flow using KOREC’s Roadway field data capture system.  

This handheld solution comprises a Trimble Catalyst GNSS (a low cost, on demand, cm accuracy GNSS) and KOREC Roadway (industry specific data capture software) running on a Trimble TDC600 rugged handheld. Three systems were purchased for use by National Highways supervisors during the trial.  
















Efficiency, digitisation and innovation 

Putting an end to a pen and paper approach, National Highways required its new digital field data capture workflow to tie in with the project’s larger overall themes of greater efficiency, creativity and innovation as well as the more specific aims of a BIM modelling approach to road maintenance that would see their mobile mapping data populated with intelligent field-based information. This would provide them with scope for both greater efficiency in existing applications and the development of new and experimental ones.  

The system was therefore developed to be fit for purpose in a number of ways:  

Accurate defect location 

Before: Previous methods of working had involved the location of potholes/defects etc marked on a strip map with a corresponding chainage to locate them. Using a road wheel, the contractor would then attempt to locate the correct defect but this often proved problematic. For example at night, or because some defects are quite subtle and hard to detect visually or because the road wheel hit a bump and span randomly putting the measurements out. The inexactness of the method meant that on occasions shift teams of up to 20 could be called off site or even fix the wrong defect which would then require the time and attendant traffic management for a second visit. Additionally, sometimes the contractor would find the defect but because of the delays between the defect repair being designed and the work carried out (often months) the repair design would no longer be relevant and a paper report of the changes would have to be prepared for the office and sent back for verification.  

After: Out on site, all defect and repair information (based on the high-quality imagery collected by the mobile mapping survey) can be downloaded wirelessly onto the TDC600 logger with on-board KOREC Roadway software. All defect information comes with both a chainage and coordinates supplemented by a navigation tool specially developed by KOREC. This augmented reality navigation tool uses the cm accuracy positioning provided by the Catalyst GNSS and works by simply holding up the handheld which then projects the defect onto the position on the road where it physically exists allowing the contractor to walk towards it. In addition, to make things even more straightforward, a new button on the software allows the user to rotate the map in the direction that the user is walking.  

Improved workflow 

The two-way data flow between the field and office vastly increases the efficiency of operation and speeds up processes. For example, if a repair design is no longer suitable for a repair, the field worker can take a georeferenced photograph of the defect, record changes on a form and then send it wirelessly to the KOREC Portal where it can be viewed by all permitted stakeholders. This allows the office team to redesign the repair and approve it in time for completion on the next shift. 


Automated shift reports 

Traditionally, shift reports were created in the aftermath of each shift, often taking days due to their complexity and length and the amount of people required to input data. For example, this data would include, attendance on site, changing weather conditions throughout the shift, overview of defects and issues, detailed reports on each defect. Collating these words, photos and locations manually was time consuming and subject to human errors.  

Following consultation with National Highways, KOREC was able to fully automate this process to generate a full report based on information captured during the shift with the KOREC Roadway software. No extra steps or information were required. This report would automatically be sent as a PDF file to all the people who required it providing immediate visibility of work carried out and costs involved.  

As well as time saving benefits, these reports are the foundation for a permanent digital record of work done on each and every defect. This information can be used in the future to assess the longevity of repairs based on the material used etc.  A long term analysis will ensure that the most suitable materials are used in the future.  


“Typically, to close a road and mark-out a 5km stretch of dual carriageway for defect repairs would take three shifts of 8 people and cost between £3k and £10k depending on the size of the job. Using KOREC Roadway functionality, we can now achieve the same amount of work in just one shift saving us around £20k on each 5km stretch.” 

Michael Ambrose (Technical Lead on the National Highways Concrete Roads Programme) 


Trimble Catalyst GNSS used in conjunction with KOREC Roadway data capture software running on a Trimble TDC600 logger 


Augmented reality navigation 


Typical information taken from
a 34 page shift report 

Where are we now?

The trials outlined in this article took place in the East region in early 2020.  Following the success of the mobile mapping project, a larger pilot was then undertaken on a selection of priority schemes, nationally, in the summer of 2020. 


KOREC was delighted to work closely with both National Highways (NH) and Mott MacDonald to then develop a routine (including Artificial Intelligence (AI) ) to quickly identify the condition of the roads from the mobile mapping data. The objective of this was to inform the investment requirements for the next period with regards to concrete road repair and renewal. 


After proving that this method worked well, in 2021 KOREC worked with AECOM to survey fifty different concrete repair and renewal schemes, nationally, providing the data to Motts for AI defect extraction and then subsequently to AECOM to develop a grading and deterioration model. This model would enable the identification of which sections of road needed priority attention as well as the overall repair requirements.  


Portal remains key 


All data is uploaded in the KOREC Portal so that it can be accessed by NH and AECOM. It has also been shared with all the contractors on the Concrete Roads framework to better inform the design and construction process. 


KOREC has continued to work closely with NH to further develop the portal so that it can be used for design and repair supervision on site using KOREC Capture field software and Trimble Catalyst (low-cost cm accuracy GNSS). All contractors now have this field system and are actively using it to improve efficiencies. 


What next? 


With an independent study indicating that potential cost savings using this end-to-end digital process are likely to be significant, KOREC is now looking ahead and working closely with the contractors on training and field based workflow improvements. We are also trialling additional technology for NH such as Thermal and GPR in order to capture the most comprehensive digital twin of the schemes.  


Whilst we continue to work with the concrete roads framework providing support and training, we are also planning to do some targeted new mobile mapping schemes later this year to assess the accuracy of the deterioration modelling and provide up to date information for future repair and renewal schemes.  


And also… 


KOREC is also a technology partner in the e2ed working group to help inform best practise and use of the technology. A first draft of this should be complete this summer. The work we have been doing aligns nicely to the NH digital roads strategy that was released at the end  of 2021 

Further to this, KOREC has engaged and provided datasets to University of Cambridge who are undertaking a huge research project into digital roads 

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