Updated: Oct 21
Due to supply chain concerns, National Highways have delayed the launch of its new Highways Accident Reporting Tool, (HART).
As the much-maligned AIRSWEB system comes to the end of its shelf life, the government-owned company commissioned an upgrade to the existing system with a view to enabling the reporting of an incident to become a more streamlined process for its supply chain.
However, despite an announcement on the National Highways website about the impending launch, significant questions have been asked over the course of the last week as to why the system was to be implemented at relatively short notice with little or no supply chain visibility or training, with one of the primary concerns being that those "Super Users" who have received training are all National Highways employees.
Initially the system had a launch date of the 8th of November, but following significant pressure exerted by Safer Highways and leading figures from within the supply chain, the Government owned company have announced today (Thursday 21st October) that the earliest date for the implementation will be December, with no specific date given.
In an email sent to the supply chain from National Highways the organisation stated,
"We’re looking to launch in December rather than 8 November, but will contact you when we confirm the exact date.
"To support all colleagues in the use of our Highways Accident Reporting Tool, we have produced a suite of guidance material. This material is accessible and available now for you to view via the Highways Safety Hub and our own website.
"Do familiarise yourself with content we’ve produced, so you can assure yourself you’re ready go. Of course we‘re on hand to help too, and I’ve shared our team inbox at the end of this update. We will continue to add further supporting material, over the coming weeks."
Despite concerns from the supply chain over a lack of parallel running between the old and new systems the government owned company have sought to reassure the supply chain by saying,
"Please rest assured, if you are an existing Airsweb user, your account will automatically be migrated across to the Highways Accident Reporting Tool, the day we go live. You do not need to contact us, to request this. Once this has happened, you will receive an email requesting you log-in to the new system and choose your password. Your username will be your email address.
"We are currently processing our existing data to be migrated across to the new system. This will happen as soon as the system goes live. This also means existing Airsweb records will be migrated across, once we switch across to our new reporting system. Airsweb will continue to stay in operation, right up until the Highways Accident Reporting Tool is switched on."
Despite the attempted reassurances following the botched initial launch, one senior professional within the industry spoke exclusively to SH saying,
“HART will be switched on and AIRSWEB will be switched off , we are not aware of any contingency, should the tech fail.”
"Crucially this raises significant questions around outstanding issues raised within the current AIRSWEB system should the integration fail, and moreover how the supply chain may be penalised around non-performance in closing off historic issues."
However, that said the biggest issue is not around operational capability, but instead around legislative guidance.
Prior to today's announcement over a delay in implementing HART, National Highways was forced into another embarrassing climb down just a few days ago over changes to GG128, a government standard relating to requirements for reporting incidents, events and undesirable circumstances: health, safety, wellbeing, structural and environmental, with Stuart Evans, National Highways Sponsor stating on Monday,
"The GG128 standard for reporting won’t change at that point in time. We are working on a simpler, more user-friendly version of GG128 to reflect feedback previously received which should be published in early January 2022."
Speaking about the u-turn and aborted launch of both our source said,
"To launch a new reporting tool with all of its associated risks is always challenging, even when that is just a migration, but to do so with no visibility to your supply chain and at the same time to change GG128 and to not communicate it until two weeks out is nothing short of ridiculous.
"Thankfully good sense has now prevailed, but should it really have come down to the supply chain going toe to toe with the client, especially in an era where the latter is supposedly promoting effective collaboration and better communication."