Thurrock and York in waste vehicle pothole detection trials

Thurrock and York councils are launching a one-year trial of pothole detecting cameras, which will be fixed on refuse vehicles.

Thurrock's in-house waste crews are walking out from 9am on week days
Thurrock waste vehicle
High-definition cameras will be mounted to refuse vehicles to detect road defects. (Picture: Thurrock council)

The trials are part of a £1.2 billion government-funding programme to improve road safety, cut congestion and improve journey times.

Worth £183,000 for Thurrock and £184,000 for York, the trials are being supported by the Department for Transport and will aim to introduce a new way of detecting potholes and other road defects in the boroughs.

The pothole-spotter system, which will be mounted to refuse collection vehicles, consists of high-definition cameras which will take high quality pictures of roads and pavements.

An integrated navigation system and intelligent software will build up an image library and help officers identify problems before they become potholes.


Executive member for transport and planning at York council, cllr Ian Gillies, said: “We welcome investment in this pioneering technology which will hopefully allow the council to reduce the amount of money spent fixing potholes each year by repairing road surface defects before they escalate into potholes.”

Leader of Thurrock council, cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “This is the first initiative of its kind – using cutting edge technology and innovation that leads to better road conditions at less cost.

“I am very pleased Thurrock has been chosen by the Department for Transport as a partner in this pioneering project and I look forward to sharing how it worked with colleagues in other local authorities.”


The trial is also expected to identify wider efficiencies in how the councils’ highways maintenance service is managed. Using the data collected, councils could respond to defects across the network quicker, which is hope will lead to a reduction in the number of compensation claims.

Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, Cllr Brian Little, said: “Highways maintenance is of great importance. The scheme will provide us with the level of detail not seen before on how problems on the highways become defects and then potholes.

“I am also delighted that we’re using existing council vehicles in such an innovative way. We need to make sure our roads are fit for purpose and Pothole-spotter could transform how we do this – in a bid to provide a better experience for our residents.”

Thurrock is working with strategic consultancy SOENECS and technical partner Gaist to deliver the innovation project. David Greenfield, founder of SOENECS, said: “RCVs are the only vehicles to regularly traverse local highway networks weekly, and follow the same route each time.

“This makes them the best vehicle to use to monitor the condition of roads, pavements and street furniture, identifying issues before they become problems. The ultimate local authority efficiency – one vehicle two roles.”

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