How hi-tech sensors are helping keep Sunderland's roads clear of snow and ice
A network of hi-tech sensors are helping keep Sunderland’s roads clear as the cold spell bites.
Ten additional infra-red temperature sensors are in the final phase of testing across the city, providing detailed additional forecast data to help the city’s winter maintenance team.
With the long-range forecast from the Met Office stating that the region is likely to continue to see ‘widespread frost and ice’ from the ‘Arctic blast’ this week, the smart sensors are already reaping benefits for city planners.
The data from the sensors, in addition to the city’s existing three weather stations, is providing a far greater understanding of the coldest locations across the city’s road network, paving the way to more effective monitoring and future planning.
The information is helping to guide gritting teams, keeping the city’s roads safer and clearer over the coming weeks, and during any future wintry and severe weather spells.
The data includes Road Surface Temperatures, Air Temperatures and Dew Point Temperatures. The combination of these elements is essential to understanding the condition of road surfaces across the city, and allowing the Winter Maintenance team to plan the most effective treatments in response.
Andy Wilson, of the city council’s Environmental Services Winter Maintenance team, said: “The risk of ice is always apparent during periods of freezing winter cold.
"We are committed to doing all we can to ensure that the city’s priority and secondary network routes are optimally treated at all times and kept safely open to commuters.
“The activation of this smart technology and use of the road temperature sensors will give us data and equip the team with the latest information to forecast, plan, and then act decisively at the optimum time.
“The sensors are already enhancing the weather forecasts produced by our existing network of complex weather monitoring stations around the city.
“The data from the road temperature sensors feeds directly into the existing weather forecasts already provided by our forecasting service, DTN Roadmaster.
"DTN currently generate weather forecasts using the city’s existing advanced weather stations, and the addition of a further ten smart sensors will only strengthen our ability to ensure that priority and secondary routes across the city are monitored in the greatest detail, and always optimally treated during periods of freezing cold.”
‘Better equipped than ever before’
Claire Venners, General Manager at BAI North, the firm behind the sensors, said the city was leading the way: “This real world application of technology is just one of a number of potential use cases, and Sunderland’s smart city vision is demonstrating the value technology can deliver to residents, businesses and the economy across transport, health, education and more.”
Council director of smart cities Liz St Louis said the sensors were providing a major boost to efforts to keep Sunderland moving: “We know cold or more severe weather can cause disruption and safety concerns, but we are better equipped than ever before to utilise digital technology to support the planning and implementation of solutions.
"The smart road temperature sensors are another example of the strides we are taking.”