Growing up quickly

White Paper: Why the transport sector must rapidly improve use of data to deliver Net Zero Carbon highways.

Authors: Andrew Crudgington, Climate Change Associate, CIHT and Mark Coates, International Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Bentley Systems

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During the summer of 2021, the CIHT and Bentley surveyed transportation professionals to find out if they believe that we are on track to deliver Net Zero Carbon highways. Respondents gave the sector a score of just two out of five. The survey also revealed some of the respondents’ preferences for how to improve this score.


Executive Summary

The UK transport sector is suffering a difficult adolescence in its ability to harness the power of data and digital technology to deliver decarbonisation. It has big hopes and dreams but has been plagued by confusion about how to make them a reality – and is a lot less sophisticated than it cares to admit. The sector’s engineers and planners have trouble asking the right questions of its data specialists, and its data specialists struggle to talk the language of transport.

This disconnect is creating a big barrier to decarbonising our transport systems at the scale and speed that the climate crisis demands. If we do not grow up quickly, we will be letting down the people that we serve today – and generations to come.

The only way forward is to collaborate and learn from each other.  We would like to see the transport sector create an open forum that can drive forward its digital and data maturity. This issue is a wider one than net zero, but decarbonisation is the perfect starting point because it is a priority for every organisation in the sector.

The forum needs to set its own agenda, but in this paper we propose three priority areas to kick-start debate.

  1. Collaborate to identify what data we really need.

  2. Collaborate to work out how to use data to tackle some common problems.

  3. Collaborate to work out how we can get data-literate transport professionals and transport-literate data specialist



  • Net Zero Means Very Fast, Transformational Change
  • We Will Not Succeed Unless We Implement the Power of Data
  • In Digital Terms, We Are Awkward Teenagers
  • 3 Ways to Help Us Grow Up Fast
  • Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate
>>> Access the White Paper



Mark Coates

Mark Coates is Bentley’s International Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, where he helps to inform and guide government, policymakers, business leaders, and decision-makers globally on the benefits of digital transformation. 

Andrew Crudgington

Andrew is CIHT Climate Change Associate. Previously he was Director of External Affairs & Strategy at the Institution of CIvil Engineers where he was responsible for ICE's policy advice to government and other stakeholders. In recent years he has delivered policy and industry improvement projects for a range of organisations including the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, and the Major Projects Association.


CIHT and the Route to Net Zero

We are supporting the transportation sector play its part in making the UK a net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050.

The Committee for Climate Change’s 6th Carbon Budget published in December 2021 sets out strategic pathways for a rapid decarbonization of both how we travel and the infrastructure we travel on.

Now we need a plan for delivery. This is an enormous challenge that will define the careers of this generation of transportation professionals.

>>> Find out more



Bentley Systems

Bentley Systems (Nasdaq: BSY) is the infrastructure engineering software company. We provide innovative software to advance the world’s infrastructure – sustaining both the global economy and environment. Our industry-leading software solutions are used by professionals, and organizations of every size, for the design, construction, and operations of roads and bridges, rail and transit, water and wastewater, public works and utilities, buildings and campuses, mining, and industrial facilities. Our offerings include MicroStation-based applications for modelling and simulation, ProjectWise for project delivery, AssetWise for asset and network performance, Seequent’s leading geosciences software portfolio, and the iTwin platform for infrastructure digital twins. Bentley Systems employs more than 4,000 colleagues and generates annual revenues of more than $800 million in 172 countries.


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1-2 December 2021, 16:00-17:30

CIHT are delighted to be a Principal Supporter at Bentley's 2021 Year in Infrastructure and Going Digital Awards. Join CEO Greg Bentley, Bentley executives, Siemens, and AEC Advisors for their latest insights during the Year in Infrastructure.

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CIHT, the authors and contributors who produced this document have endeavoured to ensure the accuracy of its contents. However, the advice and recommendations given should always be received by the reader ‘in light of the facts’ of their specialist circumstances and specialist advice obtained as necessary. Any references to legislation discussed within this document should be considered in the light of current and any future legislation. No liability for negligence or otherwise in relation to this document and its contents can be accepted by CIHT, the members of the steering group, its servants or agents, or the managing editors or contributors.


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