Stumbling across roadworks or traffic en route can be infuriating, in Staffordshire road congestion was getting particularly bad. The county council and their road network managers identified that one of the top challenges was communication with citizens around changes and maintenance to their roads. Asking local citizens in the area, they learnt that road users were not able to easily access information about road closures and congestion.
With this identified as an area needing innovation, Tenshi worked with the Council, and their infrastructure service managers, to articulate this challenge in a way that was appealing to digital and creative startups as well as entrepreneurs to address. We ran a open innovation trial that was challenge led, called ‘Dare to Solve’, looking for digital solutions to increase citizen awareness and knowledge of roadworks. We reached out to UK and EU based companies to apply and solve the challenge. The winner was won Beepz.me and their ‘Roadzwork’ solution.
Challenge-led procurement trials are most effective in fostering innovativeness and we caught up with James Manning, Beepz.me CEO, to find out what he thought of the process. “We hadn’t been through any accelerator program or anything similar in the past so didn’t really know what to expect. What I think was really beneficial about the process was the consultation you got with industry partners and the relationships created from this. With the trial being challenge-led it also ensured we remained relevant to the market when coming up with ideas and concepts”.
However, having gone to market there are improvements that could be made to the process…“I would say that this process could really benefit from some way to ensure longevity, just when getting a concept through to the next stage after the program. You build up this great network and then its gone”.
Beepz.me successfully trialled their technology ‘Roadzwork’ on the roads of Staffordshire, as a result it is now being rolled out across the UK. The app helps road users find out about roadworks that affect their journey before they travel. The idea for the app came from understanding peoples regular journeys – the ones to work or on a school run, which we don’t require directions for, where we need push notifications about traffic and accidents before setting off. With Roadzwork users can add their routes, along with the times they usually travel, and the app will inform them of potential delays, the level of congestion and offer directions for these alternative routes.