Pramod Kumar Mohapatra, Commissioner (Systems) - Delhi Development Authority

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Harnessing the Potential of Technology to Improve the Performance of Road/Highway Projects


Background
The scale, ambition and complexity of today’s Road/Highway construction projects are nothing short of breathtaking. The industry is constantly widening its vision and raising its game. Our search for natural resources is taking us deeper, and the pace of change is such that technology projects are virtually obsolete as soon as they’re completed. Operating at the forefront of some of the world’s greatest challenges, construction is becoming greener and more sustainable, while continuing to improve social conditions and tackle human and natural disasters. Technology plays an integral part in helping the industry realize these goals by enabling enhanced design, planning and construction. When applied effectively, technology can significantly boost a sector that for many years failed to improve productivity.

Key Priorities
India has one of the largest road networks of over 52.32 lakh km. It comprises National Highways, Expressways, State Highways, Major District Roads, Other District Roads and Village Roads. Total length of National Highways in India is over 1, 15,000 km. National Highways are 2% but carry 40% of the traffic.

Once built, infrastructure enters the longest phase of its life, often an assumed perpetuity: roads, rail, waterways and docks are examples of what we assume will be continuously maintained and updated. For this phase, infrastructure assets are inspected against an asset database that can also be the foundation of upgrade work in future decades.

Commitment
In order to bring more transparency, accuracy and speed in various stages of Highway Projects, and to accomplish its ambitious mandate, it is required to use advance and multiple technologies across life cycle of a project such as  High Resolution Satellite Imagery / Geo-Spatial Technology, Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR), Drone Monitoring and Simulation / Unmanned Ariel Vehicle(UAV), Scanning Total Station, Equipment/material connectivity and tracking using Internet of Things(IoT), Automation and Robotics in Road Construction, Blockchain, Integrated real-time data and analytics, Mobile technology, platforms and reporting, Project information encryption,  to  expedite project preparation, monitor construction progress, operation and maintenance and optimal management of its assets. 

The four key stages of infrastructure – planning, designing, building, maintaining – all happen “somewhere.” “Somewhere” is often important to citizens and consumers. “Somewhere” is critical to the service delivery organizations. The question is not whether Infrastructure can benefit from automated technologies, but how Infrastructure can be further enhanced using advanced and multiple technologies to improve public services. 


Technology, Experience and Adaptability
Geospatial technology can be leveraged to help address the infrastructure problems. It focusses on the interdependencies of infrastructure assets and again; geospatial technology is well suited to such an approach. Noting that renewal of national infrastructure assets must take into account ‘an extensive network of existing systems, urban development, ownership patterns, construction processes, management practices, financing mechanisms, and regulatory mandates.

Geospatial technology are  beneficial during Project Preparation stage including Alignment selection, Land use pattern for Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP), Forest / Wildlife clearance proposals, Land Acquisition – Superimposition of the alignment on Cadastral (revenue) map and finalization of land acquisition plans including Compensation calculations, Preparation of preliminary Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and vertical profile creation including preliminary cut and fill calculation, Identification of land for wayside amenities, Deciding locations of Pedestrian Underpass / Vehicular Underpasses / Service Roads based on connectivity / alternative routes to villages / town and depth of development, Monitoring encroachments in ROW, Monitor progress of road construction activity at regular intervals using multi temporal high resolution satellite data for the identified stretches , Bhuvan geoportal as platform to visualize and monitor the progress of projects. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to bring more accuracy and speed in preparation of feasibility / DPR works to ensure timely decision on alignments, designs and accurate delivery of Highway projects.

Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) Technology can provide valuable contribution in topographic survey and inventory related activities. The Scanning Total Station provides the innovative solution for surveying, engineering, and scanning. The Internet of Things(IoT) Platform is meant to provide milling and paving equipment manufacturers and the end-user contractors with analytics and reports about various aspects of their tasks and assets, in order to enhance the decision-making process and obtain the best possible management of resources, fleets and personnel.

Construction is “the land of disputes” the majority of which are inextricably connected with payments. The Blockchain technology could function as a trustworthy contract administrator by introducing an error-free process based on which the contracts would be both built and monitored. A smart contract is nothing more than a digital protocol built within the Blockchain network in order to implement the conditions of a contract. Every node is containing all the necessary information about the contractual agreement and the conditions under which the contract will be regarded as completed. Smart contracts can help the construction industry to get rid of intermediary parties (eg lawyers) as they function under the if/then concept. If a bricklayer is done with building the wall, then he asks for it to be inspected. If the inspection is successful then the bricklayer is paid. Smart contracts can cover these if/then schemes. They can be registered on the Blockchain and crypto currency can be used in order for these contracts to be collateralized. In a nutshell, more direct transactions can be encouraged through smart contracts. The Blockchain could boost collaboration and transparency with the use of bitcoin for construction.

Despite substantial investments in innovation, the construction industry is struggling to reap the full benefits of advanced data and analytics, drones, automation and robotics.

 

India has one of the largest road networks of over 52.32 lakh km. It comprises National Highways, Expressways, State Highways, Major District Roads, Other District Roads and Village Roads. Total length of National Highways in India is over 1, 15,000 km. National Highways are 2% but carry 40% of the traffic. Once built, infrastructure enters the longest phase of its life, often an assumed perpetuity: roads, rail, waterways and docks are examples of what we assume will be continuously maintained and updated.

 

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