Integral Blue (IB) continues to keep MDOT’s Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) across Michigan running at an extremely high level of device availability in support of their ongoing maintenance operations.
About Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS)
Also referred to as Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS), RWIS installations collect environmental data such as air temperature, humidity, dew point, precipitation, visibility conditions, and wind speed as well as pavement conditions such as surface temperature, moisture presence, and friction values. Combined, these sources of information can be used to calculate probability of road hazards such as icy bridges or visibility issues.
The information is aggregated and shared with different organizations, both internally to groups within MDOT and external partners, in part to be used to improve the efficiency, safety, and reliability of surface transportation.
Internal and External organizations that utilize RWIS data include but are not limited to:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The National Weather Service uses RWIS data for predictive modeling and weather forecasting.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR): Wind data is used to assist in the determination of daily fire danger rating in different parts of the state.
MDOT Road Crews: Data such as temperature and pavement conditions help transportation crews plan and take the appropriate actions to keep freeways and arterial roads safe. As an example, pavement temperatures can help determine whether or not crews should apply chemicals to the road to keep it from icing.
MDOT Warning Systems: Environmental data is collected and processed through a series of algorithms that determine if the current road or bridge conditions warrant sending alerts to Michigan drivers.
These alerts might include sending messages to dynamic signs or flashing alert beacons that may otherwise be overlooked during ideal pavement conditions. In future applications, these alerts could be broadcasted to connected vehicles using either Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) or Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technologies.
IB’s Role in Maintaining RWIS Components
IB performs the maintenance and support needed to ensure all RWIS components deliver continuous, reliable data to MDOT and their partners that rely heavily on this critical information.
Some of the field and headend equipment that contribute to MDOT’s robust weather system include:
- Remote processing units (RPUs) which are used to collect environmental data.
- Invasive and noninvasive pavement sensors that gather information such as temperature, pavement conditions and road friction values.
- Sensors that collect atmospheric values including air temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, dew point, precipitation, wind speed, and wind direction.
- Underground temperature profilers used to monitor the frost depths under our roads.
- Cameras that provide images from the roadway.
- Backend systems that process and redistribute camera footage for MDOT to send to internal and external partners.
In addition to maintaining these RWIS sites for MDOT, IB has been involved in several construction projects working collaboratively with organizations to install new weather stations and RWIS technology across Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.