Leaked emails point to shocking ‘smart motorway’ failings

Leaked emails obtained by action group Smart Motorways Kill paint a worrying picture about the state of the UK smart motorway network


THE prominent action group Smart Motorways Kill (SMK) has obtained leaked emails that paint a worrying picture of the state of the UK smart motorway network.

In the emails, senior staff at National Highways layout a plan for the improvement of the DYNAC system. DYNAC is the computer-controlled method of controlling the series of gantries and signs on the UK smart motorway network.

The emails allude to frontline staff not having confidence in the system, with one of the first points to fix mentioned in the email being creating ‘the provision of a reliable platform that performs and which our staff have confidence in’. Probably even more worrying than that, the final bullet point on the National Highways to-do list, is a point that goes some way to proving that the system has not been fully thought out before being put live. It reads, ‘recognise that CHARM (the project team rolling out DYNAC) is no longer a project, but the application of a live system. As such we need to establish a way that the system and application can be maintained and upgraded…’. With the wording of that being as it is, it seems to point to National Highways, until now, not having a contingency plan in place for maintenance of the road’s computer systems.

Smart motorway outage alleged in coming days

Now the above errors would be acceptable, expected even, had the UK smart motorway network been in the testing and development stage. That isn’t the case though, this is a live, open, and extremely busy road network, carrying more than 70,000 vehicles per mile on average (based on 2021 data from the RAC). Those vehicles carry workers, families, school children, emergency service staff and more. These fixes that are being requested by National Highways aren’t numbers on a spreadsheet, they are real people going about their daily lives.

SMK also claims that there is going to be an outage of the DYNAC system, this coming Saturday and the following Saturday. On both occasions, SMK is claiming the outage to be between 10 pm and the early hours of the next day.

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