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RFID Helps Measure Salting Needs for U.K. County Road

The Mayflower Smart Control system uses Libelium's ZigBee-based Waspmote sensors to capture weather-related data for road-management decisions in England's Hampshire County.
By Claire Swedberg

At regular intervals, the Waspmote sensors captured temperature data and forwarded that information, along with a unique identifier, to a Mayflower gateway, using the ZigBee protocol. The Mayflower gateway then forwarded the collected data via a cellular connection to the Sentilo open-source cloud-based platform. Amey next received that data, including the time and information about the road conditions that could be used to make gritting decisions.

"The aim is to improve our information to assist decision-making on when to undertake salt treatments," says Tim Lawton, HCC's head of highways, "particularly on those very marginal nights when there is lower confidence in the predicted road surface temperatures."

Because the county was already using Mayflower's street-lighting control and monitoring technology, Lawton explains, "It made economic sense to seek the opportunity to trial the Mayflower system to maximize its potential use in delivering operational services." The Winchester area location was selected for piloting "due to the route going through both rural and urban areas," says Gemma Prior, Mayflower Smart Control's marketing and bid associate.

The county used the data to analyze against events that had already occurred or that were happening during the winter, as well as against reports from office weather stations and other information. "If the results from new sensors prove to be valuable," Lawton states, "then next winter, the data from deployed sensors will be used to make go/no-go decisions for gritting."

The county indicates that it is too early to evaluate the technology's performance. However, Lawton says, the system seemed to provide information that could be used to help determine whether gritting was necessary on a particular day or evening. "Pre-salting activity has to be completed before ice forms on the road," he explains. "Hence, the more detailed information received of the predicted temperature forecast, the more accurate our decisions."

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