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Street Cuts Get Intelligent

Several dozen municipalities are adopting CDO Technologies' RoadTag solution to identify who performed road restoration work so that any follow-up repairs or maintenance can be dispatched quickly.
By Claire Swedberg

The ways in which the RoadTag solution is used, Zielinski says, will vary from one community to another. "Every city is slightly different," he explains, "so what they program on the tags is going to be slightly different, too." In many cases, a municipality's road department deploys tags according to specific vendors' needs, then hands out the tags for them to use during a specific month. The vendors can distribute those tags to contractors or use them with their own crew. As they complete each project, they can drop the corresponding tag in the area of work and cover it with pavement. Road inspectors will then be able to read a given tag in order to learn which company was responsible for that project, along with the month and year in which it was completed.

Some cities could write more information to the tags, such as building permit numbers, to associate a tag with a specific project.

"At this point, they don't write to the tags" in the field, Zielinski says, though the city could opt to do so in the future. At least one state's department of transportation is looking into the use of RoadTag RFID tags for inspectors to collect and write data related to bridge inspections, thereby creating a record that other authorized parties in the field could access, even if they lack an Internet connection.

Increasingly, Zielinski notes, each city has its own use case beyond the simple tracking of road cuts. For instance, tags could be installed in the middle of intersections and be associated with streetlights so that any work performed on a particular streetlight could be updated and associated with the corresponding tag so that city workers can then access such information as maintenance or inspection records. Additionally, several cities are considering using the technology to identify specific city trees, guard rails, handicapped ramps and sidewalks to, for instance, confirm that an inspector was there, or that other services had been provided, by whom and when.

CDO works with several other companies besides TROI to obtain its RoadTag RFID tags, Zielinski says, though its lineup of suppliers may change depending on the asphalt material through and around which the tags must transmit. On the East Coast, for instance, some state, county and city agencies are incorporating recycled and shredded rubber tires in asphalt, including fragments of the steel belts built into such tires. "We are working with various hardware providers," he says. The company also uses a variety of reader brands and models, including Alien Technology's ALR-9650 fixed RFID reader with an integrated antenna, which can be installed on desktops (for commissioning tags, for instance), and Zebra Technologies' MC9190-Z handheld reader.

Currently, the RoadTag software—with the primary function of collecting and storing data linked to each tag ID—resides on the administrator's PC and stands alone. "We've really worked on making it simple," Zielinski says, adding that if cities want to integrate the software with a permitting or inspection system in the future, CDO can provide that functionality.

Los Angeles is the latest adopter of the RoadTag system. L.A. is using the RFID solution to identify sidewalks and bike lanes being constructed throughout the city, to meet an American Disabilities Act (ADA) ruling to provide more access for pedestrians and cyclists. The city intends to distribute the tags to contractors in the future.

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