On the road with Qinetiq

Qinetiq has been award a five-year £5m contract to be the Highways Agency’s Technology Systems Maintenance Manager (TSMM).


Qinetiq will provide day-to-day support to the Highways Agency to manage a range of technology and suppliers. The contract allows for up to a further £15m of tasking over the period.


Qinetiq will act as an integral part of an extended Highways Agency team, providing management support and technical advice on ongoing operations and maintenance of the digital infrastructure of the road network in England.


The Highways Agency’s traffic management systems include electronic message signs, road signals, emergency roadside telephones and CCTV networks.


One of Qinetiq’s main tasks will be to manage and audit the 11 Software Maintenance Contractors (SMCs) that provide and maintain these systems.


Qinetiq will be responsible for accepting system or software changes on the Highways Agency’s behalf, rolling out new systems and controlling configuration changes around the network. The company will also provide a technical information repository for other technology suppliers.


Qinetiq has held the role of Software Maintenance Manager for the Highways Agency for nine years. The TSMM role includes the work previously delivered under that contract as well as a range of new and expanded responsibilities. These include the technical and operator refresher training of Highways Agency staff and contractors, working in the seven Regional Control Centres (RCCs) in England.


In addition to the refresher training of RCC operators a further framework agreement was awarded for Qinetiq to deliver foundation and intermediate training to Highways Agency RCC operators and traffic officers. Traffic officers across the motorway network now perform various roles previously carried out by the police. These include dealing with vehicle accidents, removing damaged and abandoned vehicles, clearing debris from carriageways, undertaking high-visibility patrols and providing mobile/temporary road closures.


For the past five years, Qinetiq has also conducted research for the Highways Agency into the use of fibre optic sensors for traffic monitoring. Sensors developed by Qinetiq are currently being evaluated on a stretch of the M6, performing tasks such as traffic counting, speed monitoring and weigh-in-motion.

The use of such sensors is expected to allow much more flexible use of the road network, including the proposed move towards hard shoulder running, currently being trialled on the Active Traffic Management (ATM) section of the M42. A further piece of research is being conducted by Qinetiq focussing on the dissemination of real-time weather information to drivers.