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Monitoring Scotland’s Rural Road Conditions Through IoT 

2 min

c. Nenad Stojkovic
As a Scottish consortium aims to develop an IoT sensor network to monitor the condition of rural roads, Quadrant Transport highlights how real-time monitoring can save costs for local authorities.

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.

This is to help mitigate the poor quality of road surfaces across rural areas in Scotland. The plans hope to solve the long-term problem of maintaining the quality of roads, not just for Scotland but potentially for other countries too. 

To meet its objectives, the IoT sensor 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 sensors help create data readings on temperature, moisture in the road and potential culvert blockages. Integrated into a digital interface that displays in real-time, the technology will be abv to monitor short and long-term changes in the road’s conditions.  

This is aimed at supporting better maintenance scheduling and increasing the understanding of the factors leading to the deterioration of the roads.

Current infrastructure is heavily prone to damage 

 The FLS road network covers over 10,000km, including some of the most remote areas in Scotland. These road surfaces are often unsealed roads that become weaker during flood events and heavy rain. 

To monitor this in closer detail, IoT sensors have already been deployed at test locations in Blairadam and Auchineden. 

Steven Gillan, director at DigiFlec, spoke about the project: “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 help us make the 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 can predict future damages 

 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.

Helping DigiFlec take the best approach to sensor technology, the innovation centre also identified the most appropriate sensors to use to capture the range of data required for the project.

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 applications will become more relevant as automation of the wider road network takes place.”

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