Paul Wilson is highways technology director at Kier Group and responsible for smart motorways, highway lighting and intelligent transport systems. He’s also tasked with research and development and driving collaboration between contractors and clients to ensure effective working together in the future. Lux caught up with Wilson at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition.
What technology are you installing right now?
‘One of the things that amazes me about highway lighting is how incredibly resilient and how transformative it is. A smart piece of infrastructure is a physical asset which becomes a digital asset, and highways lighting has been one of the forerunners of that.
When I left the industry it was a pretty dumb asset but now it’s become almost the IT backbone of smart cities with an ability to connect many other assets. It’s really critical asset in my world for connecting things like autonomous vehicles and electric vehicle charging, both of which are massive megatrends in the highway sector.
How is the industry responding to the advent of smart lighting?
Well I think that the clients, which we’ve historically complained about not being open to business with regard to R&D and collaboration, are actually leaving us behind.
I know that there are working groups including Tideway, Crossrail, Highways England, Network Rail and Anglian Water who really come together to share good ideas and actually put their money where their mouth is.
For example, Highways England has got an innovation technology and research fund of £150 million to drive forward new technologies, new materials, new ways of working and better use of data.
It’s the enterprise sector that’s got to catch up and work better together to share good ideas and move the industry at the pace it needs to go at.
How are solution providers working together?
If you look at the way the automotive sector is going there’s almost an aggregation between telecommunications and the big tech firms there. There’s almost an aggregation that’s technology agnostic and solution agnostic. And it’s about it’s about taking those smart assets that are collecting information and the transmission paths that are taking them back into big data.
Things like artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data used to be quite nebulous and not particularly well worked out. But you [need to] understand the next generation behind us and the generation behind that and how they connect.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Samsung Galaxy phone or an iPhone, everybody can access the same data, the same apps and the same APIs to connect to the same information. And that’s really how industry’s going to go.
What does LuxLive mean to you?
I think LuxLive is incredible. I feel incredibly proud and humbled that they asked me to speak and now that I’m here, I’m seeing that people are really getting behind the agenda of moving digital forward.
- Learn about the future of lighting from 200 speakers at LuxLive 2019, taking place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019 at London ExCeL. Entry is free. See the full programme and register for a place HERE.