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 in the 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 inspected 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.
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.
“However, Scotland has a working countryside with everything from heavy industry to the hospitality sector with roads alongside residents. The road system must serve all the needs of this sector while being accessible to communities going about their daily lives. Our system enables the people who manage the roads to better understand their situation, which is key to making road infrastructure a better experience for everyone.
“Currently we have shown what needs to be done and we have moved into the pre-commercial phase of the digital interface with the rural and remote road network. Such a system can promote more efficient work in the countryside and also help us use our resources. In this way, we try to be good ancestors and develop a conscious relationship with our country.
Josh Roberts, Innovation Manager at Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “Currently, in order to plan maintenance and monitor the condition of our road network, we have to search and inspect our roads by physically entering the forest to check the condition. the level of deterioration since our last visit to the site.
“For journeys that sometimes involve hundreds of kilometers of travel, this takes a lot of time and resources. These sensors mean we have valuable, up-to-date information on the state of our road network and alert us to any emerging issues.
“This technology will enable us to allocate the right resources at the right place at the right time, transforming the way we use our assets and delivering the best value for the public purse.”