A potentially ‘transformative’ project that uses sensors to help highways teams make better gritting decisions is being launched in Hampshire.
The pilot project senses localised road surface temperatures and weather, measured specifically on gritting routes, instead of basing decisions on weather forecasts covering relatively large areas.
A gritting lorry at Hampshire's Hook depot
Amey highways maintenance services - on behalf of Hampshire County Council - has launched the initiative with Mayflower Smart Control, who provide a street lighting control system in the county, and Wintersense (University of Birmingham), who provide an ‘Internet of Things’ approach to sensing road surface temperatures.
Professor Lee Chapman from the University of Birmingham 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.’
Amey has overseen the installation of 10 sensors onto a priority 1 gritting route in the Winchester area, as well as five new weather stations attached to street lighting columns that use the Mayflower Smart Control street lighting control network to communicate with analysis platforms.
The Wintersense devices have lithium battery technology and are low-cost, self-contained devices that use infrared to read the road surface temperature and then a mix of communication technologies, including wide area networks and WiFi, to connect to the lighting network and report data in real-time via a cloud system.
The weather stations then provide additional information about air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and humidity.
Amey can then verify the weather forecasts, as well as monitoring road conditions in real time, and base their decisions on more accurate local data.
This approach could both save the council money and reduce its carbon footprint, through less running of its gritting lorries.