New legislation from the Department for Transport requiring councils to invest in IT to co-ordinate roadworks has fewer inconsistencies than developers first thought - but there are still worries over meeting the law's deadline.
As reported in Computer Weekly, software developers, councils and utility companies raised concerns about the New Roads and Street Works Act technical specification, saying there were inconsistencies in it that would make the deadline of April 2008 hard to meet. The act will require councils to make their IT interoperable with utility companies' systems so that they can co-ordinate roadworks to reduce traffic congestion. The Department of Transport has released the document for consultation and the deadline date for comments is December 11.
Dave Turnbull, chair of the National Joint Utilities Group, said the document is "reasonable" but said the April deadline would still be difficult.
He said, "We still have some concerns about the timescale. We were initially looking for nine months from the publication of the document and the change of law - six months to install software and three months for testing. We will not be able to do that now, and we have concerns about what will happen when the systems go live."
Wayne Scott, assistant traffic manager at Bracknell Forest Council, said, "The question is whether we will have enough time to test the system and train people. There will not be enough time to bed the system in."
The Eton Developers Group (EDG), which represents 16 software firms and utilities, is advising the government on the development of roadworks software. In October they were worried technical inconsistencies would cause problems for councils implementing the systems, but now say the problems with it are "minor" and lower in number than first thought.
Spokesman Alun Hunt, marketing and communications officer at EDG member company Exor, said, "Our concern was that there was no change log for the document, so after the DfT had revised it, we did not know what changes had been made and where.
"We have now found the problems are quite minor, and the DfT is working closely with us."