Measuring sensors powered by GSM and 4G signals in road surfaces when salt spreading is really necessary.
Smart sensors in the road surface that measure when salt has to be scattered and recharge with unused energy from the GSM and 4G networks – how much innovative technology fits into one sentence? On October 5, the first sensor was placed in the asphalt. The groundbreaking technique is the result of a unique collaboration between BAM Infra, T-Mobile and sensor developer Nowi. Technology that makes it possible to have maintenance take place on the basis of data and data analysis. We call that ‘Digital Asset Management’.
The sensors give a preventive answer when it freezes. Visual inspections are then no longer necessary and there is only sprinkled where it is needed. By means of data, the state of our infrastructure becomes transparent in this way. The correct analysis makes maintenance much smarter and more efficient. There are countless applications for smart sensors in every sector and product group. It is up to the companies and developers to really make work of the possibilities. With this pilot we underline that sustainability and innovation are central to BAM Infra.
A key ingredient for these sensors is the new nationwide Narrowband IoT (Internet of Things) network from T-Mobile. Sensors exchange data with a very low power consumption and from the most inaccessible places, such as in the road surface.
The second innovative element of the pilot comes in the name of the Dutch sensor developer Nowi. The problem with sensors is that they need power: a cable or battery. When you put thousands of sensors in the road, replacing the batteries can become a major expense. These problems are over with Nowi’s climate sensors. They feed on the unused signals from Wi-Fi, 4G and GSM. ‘Plug & forget’, as Nowi calls it.
The sensors are installed in the existing road surface in a drilled hole of 8.5 centimetres. In order to protect the sensor, BAM developed a special synthetic resin. Every 15 minutes the sensor passes the temperature with an accuracy of 0.25 degrees Celsius. This information is linked to other sources, such as weather models, and is analysed. The result is a very accurate prediction when things have to be scattered. And therefore also where not.
The profit of targeted and efficient spreading goes far beyond saving salt. Sprinkled salt ends up in the melt water and in the mist caused by traffic. It pollutes the environment and reaches adjacent ponds, ditches and rivers via the groundwater. It is also bad for the life of the asphalt. The knife cuts on many sides here.
The first test sensor was installed on 5 October. The municipality of Amsterdam and the Port of Amsterdam are also affiliated to the pilot. They start placing ten sensors in their road network in November, making their infrastructure smarter.
Once again, this proves that pilots have even more added value when a client is ready to actually apply the innovation.