Birmingham software powers global road construction investment strategy

Transport networks improve resilience and enable economic recovery


  • PIARC (the world road association) asked HDMGlobal to continue technical support, training and sales of Highways Design and Maintenance (HDM) software, used to assess investments in road networks around the world.
  • The extension is part of the current PIARC concession and precedes a major upgrade to be carried out by the world Bank Group.
  • The upgrade will come at a time when countries consider the need for transport networks that will improve resilience, enable economic recovery and support the shift to low-carbon transport

The HDM software was originally developed at the University of Birmingham as part of the International Motorway Development and Management Study, which was supported by UKAid.

Now in its fourth iteration (HDM-4), it provides a powerful analysis of the lifetime costs and benefits of road construction and maintenance, and is still used by the university in research on the influence of climate change on road deterioration and maintenance requirements.

Efficient road networks can be the cornerstone of entire regions and continents. They are essential for connecting communities, enabling access to education and healthcare, as well as for trade and economic development. However, building a road is fraught with decisions, including the cost of maintenance and its impact on the environment, and the initial construction of the road alone can cost millions of pounds for every mile of development. road.

Dr. Eric Stannard, CEO of HDMGlobal

The influence of HDM software is immense. It is regularly used in decisions regarding the financing of major infrastructure projects such as the 8,600 km North-South African Corridor road network and emerging transport corridors in South America. Its regular users include the world Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as well as governments and other organizations involved in road construction.

Richard Martin Humphreys, Senior Transport Economist for the World Bank, said: “The World Bank Group has been involved in the development of the HDM Suite from its inception and throughout its development, and we look forward to leading upgrading the HDM software. We will work in partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Asian Development Bank, PIARC and other key stakeholders, to ensure that the HDM-4 model remains fit for purpose. target in 2022 and beyond.

HDM-4 is the predominant tool used to appraise road infrastructure projects financed by the Asian Development Bank. James Leather, Head of the Transport Sector Group at the AfDB, said: “Increasingly, our client countries are looking for support to the road sector in areas that pose the greatest challenges to them, such as gullying during the season. rainfall, enabling access for all citizens, road asset management, decarbonization, climate adaptation and road safety. The AfDB is pleased to support the upgrade of HDM-4 to improve decision support in the development, management and operation of safe, low-carbon and resilient road transport systems.

Dirt road in a tropical country under a gray cloudy sky
Roads in some countries are flooded during the rainy season

Anne Joselin, Infrastructure Adviser for Transport Research at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said: “UKAid has supported HDM from the start, using UK expertise to ensure that the billions spent every year in road investments in low-income countries take full account of life-cycle costs. UKAid is further supporting the upgrade of HDM4 to improve climate resilience and road safety capabilities to ensure it remains a relevant and valuable tool to help countries assess the full costs and benefits of road investments and to make the software more accessible on modern technology platforms.

Patrick Mallejacq, PIARC Secretary General, said: “PIARC is proud to support HDM-4 as it has done since the 1990s, as it is convinced that this tool is essential to ensure that road projects are well planned and appropriate maintenance needs are met. identified. Since road transport generally accounts for around 80% of all inland transport, all advances made in this mode of transport contribute to good service for users, better allocation of funds and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. . »

HDMGlobal, an operating division of the University of Birmingham Enterprise, has been led by Dr Eric Stannard since 2005. Dr Stannard, who worked on the initial development of the software, now teaches HDM-4 on the Road Management course at Department of Public Works.

For editorial information, please contact Ruth Ashton, University of Birmingham Enterprise, email: [email protected]

For all commercial inquiries regarding HDM4, please contact Dr Eric Stannard, HDMGlobal, email: [email protected]

About HDMGlobal

HDMGlobal is a partnership between several organizations with central leadership provided by the University of Birmingham. It provides software advice and training for HDM-4, ​​a powerful system for road management, economic analysis, road works scheduling, estimating financing needs, budget allocations, forecasting road network performance, project evaluation and policy impact studies. It operates under a concession from the World Road Association (PIARC), which retains intellectual property rights to HDM-4 on behalf of all ISOHDM stakeholders. The Motorway Design and Maintenance software was originally developed at the University of Birmingham as part of the International Study of Motorway Development and Management (ISOHDM) and has been sold in over 110 different countries where it has been used on many projects, and integrated into the road management process.

About the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked among the top 100 institutions in the world. His work brings people from all over the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and over 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

University of Birmingham Enterprise helps researchers turn their ideas into new services, products and businesses that meet real-world needs. We also support innovators and entrepreneurs with mentorship, advice and training and run the University’s academic advisory service. See our portfolio of technologies available for licensing.

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