Mobile Network Data – helping to address the shortage of HGV drivers
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Identifying the problem
The UK has a shortage of up to 100,000 qualified HGV drivers, depending on the source of the data. Why is this?
It has mostly been blamed on Brexit, changes in online shopping behaviour due to Covid-19 and changes to rules that allowed drivers to choose whether to be employees or contractors.
However, industry sources claim working conditions, including inadequate roadside facilities, are also part of the problem.
Due to a shortage of HGV spaces in suitable lorry parks, drivers are reportedly forced to pay for overnight spaces or park in laybys where they are not covered by insurance. The most recent Government study in 2017 counted just over 15,000, leaving around 3,600 vehicles forced to park up elsewhere.
This is why now, more than ever, understanding the current movements of HGVs is critical for planners to be able to take an evidence-based approach to building new capacity.
Understanding the current movements of HGVs is critical for planners to be able to take an evidence-based approach to building new capacity.
Before and after: how Citi Logik has changed the way data is collected
Up until recently, manual surveys of lorry parks were conducted using pens and clipboards. This did not give a comprehensive overview of what was happening at a lorry park, it reflected only what was happening at a particular moment in time.
Thanks to advances in technology, it is now possible to study what happens in lorry parks on a 24/7 basis using mobile network data (MND). This approach is quicker and less expensive than snapshot manual surveys. Unlike manual surveys, mobile network data can also provide insights on lorries’ origin, destination and routes, enabling planners to track everything from trade flows to environmental impacts and identify locations where the lorry park estate needs to be increased - a key action to encourage drivers to the industry.
Thanks to advances in technology, it is now possible to study what happens in lorry parks on a 24/7 basis using mobile network data (MND). This approach is quicker and less expensive than snapshot manual surveys.
Key benefits of using Mobile Network Data
Analysis through the use of mobile network data offers a number of further benefits. It requires no infrastructure to be deployed and extensive manual surveys are no longer necessary. This reduces the travel involved, thereby cutting carbon emissions, and eliminating many potential safety issues.
It may come as a surprise that mobile network data can distinguish lorries from other vehicles travelling by road. Citi Logik has developed a methodology that builds on a Department for Transport paper called Utilising Mobile Network Data for Transport Modelling, for which its Technical Director was one of the authors.
A closer look into how it works
HGVs generally exhibit different travel patterns from other vehicles on major highways. This difference particularly relates to speed, as HGVs are subject to speed restrictions: 99 per cent of HGVs abide by the speed limit on motorways. The distance travelled also tends to be longer and the number of journey legs is typically higher than drivers of other vehicles.
Once the HGVs have been identified, Citi Logik is able to spot changes in areas where lorry parking is taking place and at what frequency, whether that is day or night, or weekdays or weekends. Citi Logik can provide details of where HGVs park, the number of repeat visitors to a particular location and the number of times they visit, as well as segmenting HGV drivers from the UK and overseas. Citi Logik also uses pattern recognition algorithms to identify inappropriate parking in laybys, industrial estates and on hard shoulders.
Why HGV drivers are so important
Chris Bax, Chief Executive of Citi Logik, said: “Heavy goods vehicles are a vital part of the UK supply chain. By using mobile network data to identify current vehicle movements, including their origins and destinations, we can help ensure that lorry parks are built in the right places. This brings a host of benefits including attracting and retaining HGV drivers, lowering carbon emissions and making the best use of vehicle fleets and the UK’s road network.”
“Heavy goods vehicles are a vital part of the UK supply chain. By using mobile network data to identify current vehicle movements, including their origins and destinations, we can help ensure that lorry parks are built in the right places."
Citi Logik’s experience of analysing HGV routes includes a project in 2020 for the Northern Ireland Department for Economy (DfE), in which Citi Logik analysed HGV movements between NI and GB using mobile network data to help the department prepare for Britain’s exit from the European Union.