Transport Scotland is using an IoT-based location technology system from Esri to monitor gritters and keep roads clear this winter.
With the app, called Trunk Road Gritter Tracker, Transport Scotland aims to enhance road user confidence by showing the live location of gritters out on the road network, via the Traffic Scotland website. Many roads authorities already have GPS tracking on the vehicles used by their various gritter contractors, and they could get even more from this information by sharing it with their road users, allowing them to make informed decisions about travel during cold weather.
The app uses Esri UK’s cloud-based ArcGIS Online to provide information on both the location of the vehicles and a trail of where they have been in the last 24 hours in an easy-to-understand way that automatically scales to the demands of the public.
ArcGIS is an online, collaborative platform that allows organizations to use, create, and share maps, scenes, apps, layers, analytics, and data. Out of the box, organizations get access to ready-to-use maps, apps, and Esri’s secure cloud, where they can add items and publish web layers.
The live app monitors all of the major trunk roads to show the Scottish public in near real-time where gritter vehicles have been active during adverse winter conditions, and when, via a ‘snail trail’.
“In Scotland, gritting is essential during cold weather to keep traffic flowing and reduce the safety risks to the public,” explains Martin Thompson, network impacts manager at Transport Scotland.
“Historically, we have published static maps showing the public treatment and patrol routes, as well as planned number of gritters being deployed. But in the age of smartphones and real-time information, we needed to go much further in providing details of our gritter treatment activities through digital means.
“This ‘self-service’ approach to getting information allows the public to be more involved in deciding, for example, when, where and how to travel, or even whether they want to travel at all,” he added.
Paul Clarke, head of government, Esri UK, said that winter treatment costs a lot of money.
“Transport Scotland’s Winter Service costs between £12 and £13 million ($15 million to $16 million) per year. The additional insight provided by ArcGIS into the timing and routes used in real-life by the gritters leads to optimisations for Transport Scotland that saves money and improves safety,” he said.
Simon Dennis, director of central government at SAS UK said that IoT promises many advances.
“Sensors embedded in road surfaces could detect weather, predict road traffic or spot emergency vehicles so a city could quickly adjust speed limits and traffic flow,” he told IoB. “Data generated from a city’s traffic flow can help prioritise where public transport investment is most critical or locations where maintenance work is most needed,” he said.