The Internet of Things as a tool to help citizens survive the winter

By any reasonable measure, this has been a particular hard winter in the U.S.

Buffalo started with a 70-inch plus storm last November. Syracuse has seen snow since January and Boston has been repeatedly hammered, seeing over 95 inches of the white stuff so far this year, possible with more on the way.

Those numbers create all sorts of logistical nightmares, which have pushed cities to look into the Internet of Things for help.

The Internet of Things as a tool to help citizens survive the winter

In 2013, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched SnowOps Viewer, a web application that shows the location of all active city and city-contracted plows in real time, as well as where calls for service had been made.  In Chicago, a similar service called PlowTracker is available. It follows not only plows, but salt spreaders in real time.

In Buffalo, snow removal vehicles have been equipped with GPS sensors to help the city keep up with the speed at which plow requests are fulfilled. When residents file requests to have their street plowed, the GPS-equipped trucks can signal when the job is finished and residents receive a notification that the job has been done. Residents are glad with the service.

Plow tracking and automatic service notifications are just the beginning. There are think tanks already looking to take things a step further. According to a 2014 report from Arup, a multinational professional services firm, highways in the future would be made from solar materials and would have imbedded monitors to help keep driving conditions optimal, particularly in hazardous winter conditions.

It is expected that heating elements in the roads would melt snow and ice as soon as freezing conditions are detected. In addition, temperature-sensitive paint on the road could warn drivers of upcoming hazardous conditions.

Upcoming technologies will have the potential to make radical changes to the construction, management and efficiency of road infrastructure. Thereby, the roads of the future may look and perform very differently to today, the report reads.



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