SAP To Help Accelerate Digital Roads Of The Future As Part Of New Research Alliance

New research project places data at the heart of reducing environmental impact of UK’s motorways

LONDON, UK – SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announces that it has been selected to sponsor and develop an academic research project to make the UK’s motorways more efficient, reduce their environmental footprint and accelerate the transition to a net-zero Britain.

In collaboration with the University of Cambridge and National Highways, and through an existing partnership with Costain, the UK leader in engineering and construction solutions, SAP will participate in the Digital Roads of the Future initiative to support research into connected physical and digital road infrastructure, and improve how the UK’s highways are designed, built, operated, and used. This will support National Highways’ 2025 Digital Roads ambitions and is a continuation of SAP’s work with Costain on UK infrastructure projects.

It is one of a portfolio of projects being developed by the newly-created Roads Research Alliance which has brought together 22 organisations from across the highways industry to help shape the development of innovation in the sector over the next five years.

The Digital Roads of the Future initiative comes at a time of unprecedented change in UK transport. With the government’s commitment to meet a net-zero target of 2050, the transport industry has fallen into the spotlight as it remains one of the country’s biggest contributors to carbon emissions. The sector faces pressure to both support the UK’s levelling up agenda and rebuild the economy, but also build back greener and to lead by global example and fully decarbonise. This research alliance is critical in understanding how technology can drive environmental progress.

SAP will fund an academic researcher who will develop a motorway-specific data model using the SAP Business Technology Platform to solve existing issues with interoperability, whereby current field data cannot communicate effectively, and enable efficient, reliable, and secure data collection and analysis. The model will be used to generate a ‘digital twin’ of the motorway, which is a digital representation of physical assets, so it can be updated in real-time with accurate field data.

This technology will enable the UK’s motorway stakeholders to assess the environmental impact of scope 1,2,3 emissions, create effective maintenance strategies and enable proactive asset management to better maintain the lifecycle of motorways. By funding a researcher, SAP will also support ‘what-if’ scenario planning and help deliver predictive analytics to assess the impact of lowering emissions, increasing efficiency, and reducing public expenditure on the UK’s highways.

Commenting on the research project, Michiel Verhoeven, SAP’s UKI MD, said: “We need only look at this summer’s heatwaves to understand the importance of accelerating the decarbonisation of our society – whether that’s in the lifecycle of our goods and services, or indeed the roads that we drive on.

“The Digital Roads of the Future initiative will deliver groundbreaking research into how technology can shape the future of our transport infrastructure, delivering operational and sustainable best practice. We’re delighted to work with prestigious institutions like the University of Cambridge, and leading industrial partners like Costain and National Highways, to sponsor a researcher and showcase how our platforms can drive real industry change.”

“In order to make accurate decisions on the future of our road infrastructure, the UK’s motorway stakeholders need to have reliable and trusted access to real-time data,” said Tim Embley, Director of Research, Innovation and Development at Costain. “Our work with SAP to sponsor an academic researcher will support the digitisation of our roads, bringing them into the twenty-first century, and will lay the foundations for more sustainable, efficient highway management.”

On Tuesday (27 September), the 22 members of the Roads Research Alliance – including National Highways, Costain, the University of Cambridge and SAP – gathered at St Catharine’s College at the University to formally agree on and sign the research charter, officially launching the alliance.

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National Highways CEO Nick Harris and Supplier Michiel Verhoeven as they sign the Roads Research Alliance Charter at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Picture by Chris Radburn/Stella Pictures Ltd.
National Highways CEO Nick Harris and supplier Loannis Brilakis hold the Roads Research Alliance Charter after signing it at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Picture by Chris Radburn/Stella Pictures Ltd.
National Highways CEO Nick Harris (centre) has a selfie with Michiel Verhoeven and Loannis Brilakis after signing the Roads Research Alliance Charter at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Picture by Chris Radburn/Stella Pictures Ltd.
National Highways CEO Nick Harris with suppliers after signing the Roads Research Alliance Charter at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Picture by Chris Radburn/Stella Pictures Ltd.