US town in ‘smart’ initiative to monitor roads via streetlight sensors

Smart city technology provider CIMCON has announced that Spencer in Massachusetts, which has around 12,000 people, is planning to add road condition monitoring as part of its recent LED streetlight conversion project.

Town officials hope the project will improve driver safety, meet state environmental guidelines, and reduce costs associated with ineffective road monitoring and maintenance.

Spencer, originally an agricultural and mill community, has an aging population for whom road safety is a priority, especially during the winter months when snow and ice can cause car accidents.

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Using the funds remaining from a grant and incentives received from the Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC) and National Grid respectively, to convert their streetlights, the town selected CIMCON’s NearSky smart city platform with road condition monitoring application to improve public safety.

At the start of the project, the town identified four areas that experience the first occurrences of freezing during inclement weather.  Two areas are along a causeway and the other two are in the northern section of the town, where the elevation is higher and the temperature is typically five degrees lower than the town center.

The town will monitor two additional areas for comparison purposes.  Real-time data from road temperature sensors will be relayed back to the town’s Highway Department via the software so that preventive measures may be taken.

The data obtained from the StreetVibe software will allow the town to monitor the road temperature and treat surfaces before hazardous road conditions can occur. Not only will this make the roads safer, but it could also allow the town to reduce the amount of salt it uses to melt ice on roads. In addition, the Spencer highway department said it expect to save money.

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Highway Superintendent Krukowski estimates that the platform will pay for itself within four years through savings on road salt and reduced equipment wear and tear.

The system is expected to be fully deployed by May.

“We try hard to recognize and be responsive to the needs of the community,” said Krukowski. “Our collaboration with CIMCON started with an LED lighting conversion. We had funds available in our project budget and grants from the state and decided to use them to improve the safety of our streets.”

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This article first appeared in POWERGRID International.