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Consortium develops IoT for Scotland’s rural roads

Pothole in road
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A Scottish consortium is developing an internet of things (IoT) sensor network to provide real time monitoring of rural road conditions.

CENSIS, the national innovation centre for IoT technologies, is working with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) and Dunfermline based start-up DigiFlec as part of the Scottish Government’s CivTech 6 Accelerator Programme to develop a digital transport network management interface.

The initiative is aimed at solving a long term problem in maintaining the quality of roads in rural areas.

It combines the digital mapping of the road network alongside the deployment of IoT enabled sensors to capture live data on the condition of the roads under FLS management. The data includes readings on temperature, moisture in the road and potential culvert blockages.

The data will be integrated into a digital interface that displays it in real time, as well as any long term changes to the road’s condition. This is aimed at supporting better maintenance scheduling and increasing the understanding of the factors leading to the deterioration of the roads.

Prone to damage

FLS has a 10,000 km road network covering some of the most remote areas in Scotland, largely made up of unsealed roads that become weaker when wet and can be easily damaged by flooding. IoT sensors have so far been deployed in test locations on roads in Blairadam and Auchineden.

Steven Gillan, director at DigiFlec, said: “So far, we have demonstrated what is required is feasible and we have moved into the pre-commercial phase of the digital interface with a rural and remote road network.

“Such a system could support a more smoothly functioning working countryside and also help us to make best use of our resources. In this way, we are trying to be good ancestors, and develop a considerate relationship with our land.”

Monitoring temperature

CENSIS supported DigiFlec by building IoT capabilities into the sensors and developing a specific non-contact sensor that can detect road temperature without being placed in the concrete, which can weaken the road.

The innovation centre also identified the most appropriate sensors to use that would capture the range of data required for the project, helping DigiFlec take the best overall sensing approach.

Its business development manager Rachael Wakefield said: “The project also shows why IoT sensors need to be interoperable and capable of bringing together lots of different types of data, with great examples of dynamic sensor data, bringing digital models to life. These types of applications will become more relevant as automation of the wider road network takes place.”

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