Highways UK 2020 Starts in



4/5 November 2020, NEC, Birmingham




Talking Heads - Big Ideas

Transport Technology Forum 2.0 hits the ground running

The Transport Technology Forum has relaunched as a joint Department for Transport and Innovate UK entity with the primary aim of ensuring local authorities possess the skills and experience to make the most of road technology. DfT's ITS policy lead Darren Capes sets out how it will operate.

Darren Capes

Darren Capes

ITS Policy Lead for the Department for Transport's Traffic and Technology Division

Thursday 4 April 2019

The TTF or Transport Technology Forum was relaunched on the 25March at an event in Central London. The Inaugural Forum meeting was attended by around 100 representatives of local authorities, central government, industry and academia with a common interest in the development of road technology. Attendees at the highly successful and stimulating event heard DfT explain details of the proposed organisation and operation of the TTF and had an opportunity to participate in its ongoing development.

The event introduced Arup as the new delivery partner for the TTF and Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation as the Forum's independent chair. It set out the aims of the TTF to support those working in the road technology sector in public bodies, the private sector or academia, and through regular meetings and conferences provide a space for the exchange of ideas, support and guidance. By running a series of Technical Working Groups, the TTF will also provide enhanced support for existing initiatives such as UTMC and in new areas including data and C-ITS technology deployment.

The Forum does not have a membership and participation is open and free for all those involved in roads technology. The Forum will meet three times a year, twice for general forum meetings and once for the annual national conference. By attending Forum meetings, you will have a chance to hear about and influence the Action Plan, which is the programme of research and project work undertaken by Arup with DfT and Innovate UK (IUK) funding based on the needs and interests of the community. 

Currently we are completing projects to develop training materials to support local authority skills in traffic signals UTC design and operation, and traffic signal optimisation guidance. These initial projects give a feel for the type of work the TTF will focus on in the future; small, targeted projects that offer support and guidance or in some way assist the roads technology community in working more efficiently and effectively, specifying and procuring more easily or addressing the challenges of new technologies.

The TTF was conceived around five years ago as a means of bringing procurers and suppliers together to develop and grow the adoption of new technologies by roads authorities, both to benefit the operation of transport in the UK and drive the development of the industry. It was envisaged that the TTF would become a subscription based organisation funded by and acting on behalf of its members. Experience showed this model was unlikely to succeed in a small market like roads technology and the likelihood was that the TTF would never reached its potential this way.

The need for the Forum has become widely understood and so it is being relaunched as a DfT and IUK funded entity. The benefits of this are clear as we move towards a world of increasingly complex and interconnected technology, where road vehicles will be at the very least connected to each other and most probably automate to some degree. The traditional role of highway authorities and the supply chain they depend on are changing and new technologies, skills and business models are required. The need for government to take a role in leading this is also clear, as it is through the highway authorities and technology suppliers that the aims described in the Industrial Strategy, Grand Challenges and Future of Mobility Urban Strategy will be realised. There is also a need to ensure that local authorities possess the skills and experience to make the most of what they have now in terms of road technology, meet growing expectations with limited resources and access funding where it is available.

DfT sees the TTF as a central part of meeting these challenges and has contracted Arup to deliver secretariat activities, TTF events organisation and project work. To ensure the TTF works for the wider roads technology community, its activities will be overseen by a Steering Group made up of DfT, IUK and representatives of the various sectors of the community. It will also be attended by the independent chair of the Forum, there to represent the interests of the wider Forum and Technical Working Groups. The Steering Group will also form links to others work in the sector including AESIN, (who represent the automotive electronics industry) and British Standards Institute, both of whom had representatives at the recent meeting. We will be expanding this and involving other bodies to widen the scope and experience of the TTF as we move forward.

TTF holds a contact list of those who have been involved in the Forum and DfT local transport initiatives in the past, so many of you will have seen news about the relaunched TTF already. If you have not, then please join our mailing list at www.ttf.uk.net. The TTF exists for all involved in roads technology and you are encouraged to participate!

Darren Capes is the ITS Policy Lead for the Traffic and Technology Division at the Department for Transport