Following a trial of sensors that can report when road gullies are getting blocked, a highway authority has said the technology will require further work before being widely used.
In autumn 2016 engineering firm Amey installed new sensor technology into gullies in Hampshire, where it was at the time the county council’s highway maintenance contractor.
The sensors measured the level of silt and the water level inside the gully, feeding this information back to a control centre managed by Amey via web-based, mapped, visualisation software.
It was said that technology worked well, gullies would only need to be cleansed when they are at risk of flooding, leading to 'a radically different approach' to gully cleansing.
However, both parties have presented the trial as something from which they have learned, rather than an outright success for the new technology.
A Hampshire CC spokesperson told Transport Network: ‘The County Council is always open to new ideas to help us make the most of the resources we have to look after Hampshire’s roads, such as potential ways to improve our response to adverse weather and flooding.
‘We looked into a trial of gully sensors which offered the possibility of helping us quickly resolve some types of flooding on the roads, by alerting us to blocked gullies; and also to provide data on key factors which affect flooding on the roads, such as silt and water levels in the gullies so we could proactively prevent flooding.
‘This was a useful trial; however we concluded that the technology requires significant refinement before the sensors might be rolled out further across the highways network.’
David Ogden, Amey’s business director for highways, said: ‘Following the results of the pilot, we calculated that we have the potential to reduce the cost of gully cleaning by 20%. This was through better knowledge of the gullies but also by developing an on-demand approach and real-time monitoring.
‘We are now looking to scale up these new approaches to gully cleaning on other accounts, using sensor technology and data analytics.’
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