‘The Talking Sign’ is a brand-new initiative designed by Kier in conjunction with Chevron, which is based on their intercom system normally used for residents awaiting escort through work areas. The Talking Sign was showcased recently at Gatwick Airport and was well received by stakeholders, Highways England and customers as it is the only ‘live’, up to the minute, works information system of its kind, in operation now with the following benefits:
- Allows Gatwick airport customers to make informed decisions on driving routes thus not increasing the traffic on congested routes keeping motorists safe.
- Reduces the anxiety the motorist’s experiences by not knowing what route to take thus making a safer and calmer drive.
- General wellbeing of the individual due to knowing the exact conditions of the commute that they are about to do.
Four signs are sited at the car parks at Gatwick Airport South and North terminals where passengers will be able to ‘push the button’ when leaving the airport to check traffic conditions on the M23 SMP scheme for their forward journey.
To engage the community, a competition was held for the fascia design where local school children were asked to participate. The winner was chosen by representatives from Gatwick Airport, Highways England and Kier, and the winning entry was from an 8-year-old who lives on the M23.
As the customer experience is one of Highways England’s key imperatives, the Talking Sign goes a long way in enhancing the motorists commute when exiting the airport, helping them make informative safe decisions about their journeys home.
So many times, when flying in from foreign destinations, it can take a while to clear customs, retrieve baggage and the last thing you want, is to get to your car knowing that there are roadworks and thinking you will be delayed. This can add to stress and anxiety levels, potentially making the commute unsafe.
Not adding to congestion on routes by being able to make an informed decision on the route they are going to commute is beneficial to all road users.
The sign has been greatly received from Gatwick Airport. Hannah Godfrey, Surface Access Planning Manager at Gatwick Airport, stated when the talking sign was installed:
“Gatwick Airport has been very pleased to collaborate with the whole M23 Smart Motorway Project team on developing the new ‘Talking Signs’, installed in December 2018. From initial brainstorming in early summer, the team listened to the issues Gatwick faces in communicating disruption to our passengers and has found a solution which supports better journeys from the airport. The signs now support dynamic decision-making based on live traffic conditions for airport passengers and staff, allowing them to change their route, preparing them for delays and traffic conditions and setting expectations for their journey”.