The Problem

Network Information Services Limited (a joint venture between Thales and Mouchel) took over the operation of England’s National Traffic Information System to provide traffic information on behalf of Highways England (HE) to millions of road users using England’s 4,300 miles of strategic road network every day.

The system monitored the performance of the network through traffic detectors, CCTV and weather monitoring (including fog sensing) systems. Additional information came from, and was exchanged with, HE’s on-road traffic officers, police forces, local highway authorities, contractors, leisure and entertainment venues and weather centres, in all a total of over 250 operational partners. This information was analysed alongside data concerning planned and unplanned events, and a GIS-based database of the core HE road network which contained detailed physical descriptions and theoretical capacities. The system was operated 24/7, all year round.

The original system was developed by Serco to support HE’s main goals of reducing congestion and improving journey time reliability. Ongoing enhancements of the system were crucial to the effectiveness of the NIS service, particularly through the roll-out of Managed Motorways, and to ensure all existing and new service requirements were delivered by the system in accordance with strict performance requirement parameters. Taking on the support of another company’s software solution would require significant experience and expertise to ensure performance and reliability targets could be met.

The Solution

Nicander were contracted by NIS to support the legacy NTIS platform by demonstrating an extensive skill set and value engineered service solution.

Nicander staff are experienced in software development and we use a wide range of technologies and methodologies to meet our customers’ demands. Our staff design software for all kinds of systems from large, distributed ones with strict up-time requirements down to small software components. Our experience includes all different phases of analysis and design, from requirements capture through to detailed design and covers various methodologies and tools, including waterfall, agile and UML.

We are specialists in software development and have a wide range of skilled personnel to quickly understand legacy systems to deliver maintenance and support services. Our core competencies cut across a range of general purpose languages, web systems and database solutions. Our expertise also includes specialist languages, such as those used by expert systems, and older style languages, such as Pascal and Visual Basic.  We use many different methodologies in our software development, catering to specific cases and needs as they arise. We are knowledgeable of tried-and-tested design patterns, object-oriented development and functional programming. We use unit testing and test-driven development (TDD) to support our development activities and ensure that quality is baked into our software. We are an adaptable organisation and we have experience of many different platforms; our knowledgeable staff pride themselves in being able to analyse and design systems using the best available options, even if that means learning new skills. Our core experience includes desktop and server hardware systems and virtual systems using many different versions of Windows, but we also have experience with Linux and OpenVMS.