‘Smart’ plan to tackle icy roads

By Farnham Herald in Local People

A NEW ‘smart winter’ pilot using a detailed network of weather sensors is under way in Hampshire to help highways teams pinpoint more precisely when and where roads need salting to tackle icy conditions.

Rob Humby, the executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “We are always looking at how technology and innovation can help us look after Hampshire’s road network as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“Deciding when to send out the salting lorries is crucial to make sure the roads are treated at the right times while not wasting any salt. At the moment, we use a number of roadside sensors and localised weather forecasts to make these decisions.

“This new trial uses low-cost devices that use infrared to read road surface temperature and then sends the data back using wifi and the street-lighting network. This means that winter teams can make even better informed decisions.”

The pilot is being run by Amey, the county council’s highways maintenance contractor, working with Mayflower Smart Control, which provides a street-lighting control system in the county, and Wintersense (University of Birmingham), which provides an ‘Internet of Things’ approach to sensing road surface temperatures.

Amey has overseen the installation of trial sensors onto a priority one gritting route, as well as five new weather stations attached to street-lighting columns that use the Mayflower Smart Control street-lighting control network.

Rick Robinson, Amey’s director of technology, said: “This is an exciting innovation project which will enable Hampshire County Council to make much better use of their resources. We’ve been gritting roads in the UK using the same approach for many years, but this new approach could lead to a radical overhaul of how we approach the problem of when to grit a road.”

Patrick Mitchell, managing director of Mayflower Smart Control, added: “The Hampshire smart winter project is a great illustration of innovation and collaboration to connect Internet of Things devices and begin realising a smart county approach.

“As smart street-lighting networks are deployed across the cities and counties, it will give greater coverage and provide city and county managers with the option to install other compatible applications to gather more granular data, creating both immediate and long-term insight that will improve forecasting and effectiveness of services.”

Professor Lee Chapman, from the University of Birmingham, is upbeat about the project. He said: “The potential of this for the winter road maintenance sector is transformative and will seriously challenge the traditional methods of measuring, forecasting and decision making that have broadly remained untouched for decades.”

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