Smart street lights tell cities when to salt frozen roads

Wintersense is an IoT road surface temperature sensor that passes data via a Wi-Fi street lighting network to a cloud system.

Street lights that tell local authorities when to salt roads in winter have been unveiled in Hampshire in the UK. The new lamps are fitted with a smart control central management system, which is able monitor weather and road surface temperatures.  

A city usually takes the decision to send out salting wagons, based on weather forecasts provided by the BBC.

However, these forecasts can be inaccurate and are often based upon large areas, rendering them unreliable when attempting to predict localised temperature levels, which often vary.

The streetlights, however, are able to predict and monitor localised road surface temperatures, producing bespoke information to assist those working on the ground.

Mistakes are often made, with salt either being spread unnecessarily or in the wrong areas.

Salting orders have increased dramatically this winter, with UK councils ordering an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of salt ahead of the winter gritting almost double the number from last year.

Amey, which provides highways maintenance, launched the project in partnership with Hampshire County Council and Mayflower, which developed the control management system.

Working together, Wintersense, the Met Office, Mayflower and Amey developed a solution to utilise weather station sensors and road surface temperature sensors on a test route in Hampshire, monitoring the temperature on the roads in real time.

Wintersense is an Internet of Things-inspired (IoT) road surface temperature sensor, that uses infra-red technology to read the road surface temperature

Then, using Wi-Fi to connect to the street lighting network, the data is passed in real-time to a cloud system.

The weather stations then provide additional information about air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, rain fall and humidity.

Data from the trial will be analysed and published so that other cities can view it and decide if it would be of benefit to them.