The Manual for Smart Streets (MfSS) provides you with what you need to know as you explore and implement smart services and technologies to improve our streets. “Smart streets” are where digital systems, services and technologies improve the user experience or the management, operation and maintenance of the street.

HM Government’s “Future of Transport Programme” sets out how “technology will drive radical changes in transport in the next 10 years. Electrification, connectivity, automation and real-time data collection and analysis are driving the development of new modes of travel and new ways to do business.”.

Through embracing advances in the way data is exchanged, smart streets can:

  • Bring efficiencies in the day-to-day operations of road authorities.
  • Exploit local, regional and national investment in data technologies.
  • Reduce friction and improve experiences for road and transport users.

The Manual for Smart Streets supports authorities who are conceiving, designing and implementing street technologies. It will provide guidance, examples and practical pointers, allowing authorities to make best use of technology and improve how we travel. Only through exploiting technology will we secure the UK’s position as a world-leading innovator, decarbonising the transport for the benefit of all society.

Technology is not new to our streets. Year after year, the way we experience streets has been improved by traffic signals, detection and monitoring systems.

But it is now time for a step change towards systems that are more connected, better integrated and designed – right from the start – with the user at heart. These “smart street” systems exploit opportunities provided by advances in both the types of data-collecting devices and the platforms that underpin them.

First, the travelling public increasingly augment their journeys with connected services through smartphones and devices. Second, advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), connectivity and cloud computing have led to the proliferation of connected vehicles and telematics.

At the same time, the process of digitisation is improving business processes. Sometimes this is simply refining existing processes – or simply changing ways of working – to make better use of traditional IT systems. Other times it means converting analogue data collection and storage with digital formats. All the while, centralised or third-party platforms provide interfaces and share information with users.


The diagrams below show how traffic is managed in “traditional” compared with “smart street” systems. You will see how the seamless and simultaneous communication between vehicles, user devices and transport infrastructure improves the overall efficiency of traffic management. These smart street systems providing better data, are less reliant on physical infrastructure and provide a more seamless user experience.

Traditional traffic management




Smart traffic management




We must be clear throughout: smart streets and the use of technology must always be to deliver an objective. Whilst we know smart streets deliver benefits, exactly what type of benefit – and to who – depends on your objective or strategy. This means that the adoption of smart streets is not a strategy – it is the route to achieving your strategy. Local transport strategies and policies must continue to provide guiding principles.

Importantly, the manual does not set out any new transport policies or legal requirements. It is technical guidance that incorporates and references policy and the law – but does not replace policy or the law.

The Manual for Smart Streets supports traffic and highway authorities who are responsible for providing services for streets and highways.

The design of the manual recognises that there are different capabilities and levels of experience within authorities. Different authorities will use technology in different ways and to solve different problems.  The manual is designed to help both those with deep knowledge in particular fields but also for those who are new to the area and who want to explore new opportunities posed by enhanced connectivity. Whilst your systems and processes may be different, with different components and suppliers, integrated in different ways to deliver local needs, there are still a set of common principles and proven experiences to be shared.

At the same time, the manual will also provide industry actors and the market with the information they need to identify and establish new ways to contribute value for traffic and highway authorities. It will define ‘best practices’ which will ultimately lead to a sustainable and more vibrant market for smart street technologies which solve real-world problems.

The very nature of smart streets means the field is moving rapidly. Every day comes the invention of new technology. This manual does not pretend to provide a definitive position. Instead, it is a framework for your decisions.

The reader is invited to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement by providing feedback. This work will be a success when the manual develops in response to feedback from a community of users, with that community supporting each other to innovate new models in this exciting – but challenging – arena.

The manual follows a process defined in a ‘Service Delivery Lifecycle’. This is the journey of a smart streets service right from conception, through design and procurement to the implementation and operation.

Practical knowledge and guidance is then provided in ‘Smart Streets Use cases’. Use cases describe the sorts of problems that can be addressed through smart street technologies. Use cases give examples of how that problem is solved, with common trade-offs and risks. All the use cases in this manual provide links and information that allow the reader to conduct a more detailed investigation. These use cases are not just about traffic management – they cover the application of smart technology across a wide range of transport services.

Use cases are not a definitive guide. As  explained, your challenges will be unique. But the manual provides a meaningful and accessible overview that gives the reader a route to more detailed resources.

As above, if you are a practitioner and you feel like you can provide specific knowledge or capability that will support others in the implementation of smart streets, please get in touch.  The opportunity to publish new case studies and hear your perspective at the Transport Technology Forum will be welcomed.

And finally, hopefully the manual will develop the reader’s understanding of ‘systems thinking’. Whether you are a transport strategist, data scientist or traffic manager, the real value of smart street services comes where those services are part of a system of interlinked systems.

The UK Government’s National Data Strategy and Innovation Strategy both identify the pressing need to make better use of data. This means adopting new products, services and technologies to drive efficiency and improvement for public services.

In response, the Transport Technology Forum commissioned Connected Places Catapult to create the Manual for Smart Streets to help local authorities embrace advances in smart street technologies. Connected Places Catapult is the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport and places. The manual provides essential knowledge – allowing authorities to use technology to support safe and effective operation, management and maintenance of road infrastructure and services. On top of this, in being open to industry, the manual supports the development of a sustainable, vibrant and competitive marketplace.

This manual does not represent the views of the Department for Transport or HM Government.

The Manual for Smart Streets is a living document that will continue to develop through engagement. Please do contact us using the link below if you have any questions, feedback, or content to contribute.

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