Scottish IoT project aims to keep rural roads pothole-free

Scotland’s IoT project aims to keep rural roads pothole-free
A consortium of research partners in Scotland is helping to tackle persistent challenges facing Britain’s transport infrastructure with the development of an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor network that provides real-time monitoring of rural road conditions.

DigiFlec, a Dunfermline-based start-up, is working with CENSIS – Scotland’s innovation center for sensors, imaging, and IoT technologies – and Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) as part of the Scottish Government’s CivTech 6 Accelerator Program to create a digital. interface for managing the transport network.

The initiative combines digital mapping of the road network with IoT-enabled sensors deployed to capture live data on the condition of the FLS road network. The data includes measured temperatures, road moisture, and possible culvert blockages.

The FLS has a 10,000-mile road network covering some of the most remote areas of Scotland, most of which are unsealed roads that can be vulnerable when wet and prone to flooding. Accurate information about real-time conditions will enable better decisions about road use at certain times. IoT sensors have so far been deployed at test sites on Blairadam and Auchineden roads to collect and relay road information.

The data will be integrated into a digital interface that will display real-time data as well as any long-term changes in road conditions. This allows for a better maintenance schedule and, last but not least, provides better awareness of the factors that influence roadway deterioration, allowing decisions to be made to prevent excessive damage and better allocate resources for repairs and upgrades.

Reliable data collection and the ability to deploy sensors in remote and rural areas can have many applications for public road network management. Roads currently have to be checked manually, which can lead to the loss of hundreds of kilometers of road. While motorable and A roads are inspected for defects annually, Class B and C roads are only inspected every 4-20 years. Recent reports suggest that the backlog of repairs needed on Scotland’s road network could cost £1.7 billion[1].

Steven Gillan, chief executive of DigiFlec, said: “Local authorities and landowners are now struggling with a lack of information about the condition of their roads. A big reason is a time and cost associated with data collection. This makes it difficult to make good decisions about where to focus efforts and maximize time, materials, and resources.