Flanders: smart monitoring system to keep roads ice-free
This winter, the Flemish Agency for Roads and Traffic (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer, AWV) is planning close collaboration with the Royal Meteorological Institute (Koninklijk Meteorologisch Instituut, KMI). The new collaboration should help to better keep the roads ice-free. It was the Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), who announced the new cooperation on Tuesday.
A team of 569 people and 315 spreaders are ready to keep the Flemish highways and regional roads snow and ice-free. A contract is signed to distribute 108.000 tons of road salt.
“In the past, it was Meteo Wing that used to provide weather reports. Three times a day, the unit of Defence sent out a weather forecast,” explains Veva Daniels, spokeswoman of AWV. “Now we will get more and more frequent updates and more accurate information about the situation on the roads, every hour of the day.”
Sensors and cameras
The so-called ‘road weather model’ is connected with 78 measuring points. Sensors in the road surface or infrared cameras oriented to the asphalt will collect information: the temperature of the road surface, the speed of the wind, and possible precipitation. The information then is sent to the KMI.
“Thanks to the permanent monitoring and faster communication between the KMI and the spreading services, we can immediately text a message to the person in charge of the sub-regions in case of danger,” says Daniels.
The 78 measuring points will enable the winter services to have better and more specific information for each location. The spreaders will be equipped with GPS, and the width of spreading will automatically be adapted to the type of road, making the spreading more effective and environmentally friendly.
Bicycle paths will be serviced separately, so even cyclists will profit from the new system.
David Dehenauw, head of KMI’s Scientific Department of Weather Forecasts, emphasizes that the main goal is to improve mobility in the entire country. “Maybe Wallonia is interested in our way of working, and also the national railway company, NMBS/SNCB, can count on us.”