Geo-maintenance solution keeps Bavaria's roads safe in winter
The new system is based on innovative technology that enables highway and road maintenance depots to see into the future, allowing them to respond to the onset of icy road conditions far earlier than used to be the case.
Nürnberg. Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, has given the go-ahead for the new Winter Maintenance Management System for Bavaria (Winterdienstmanagementsystems Bayern [WDMS-BY]) just in time for the onset of the cold season. The new system is based on innovative technology that enables highway and road maintenance depots to see into the future, allowing them to respond to the onset of icy road conditions far earlier than used to be the case. "Before, we only knew two hours beforehand how the weather was going to be. But with the new Winter Maintenance Management System, we obtain the information we need exactly eighteen hours in advance," says Thomas Rissmann, head of the highway maintenance depot in Nürnberg-Fischbach.
The central element of the WDMS-BY service is a web-based geo-information system that was developed under the auspices of the Autobahndirektion Nordbayern (Motorway Directorate for Northern Bavaria) in collaboration with the Geo-IT experts at con terra GmbH in Münster. The system gathers the constant stream of incoming data, analyses it, and combines it to put together an up-to-date overall picture. It includes local data from the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Service) as well as data from currently as many as 250 road-ice warning systems in operation within the test region, located every 80km along motorways and rural roads. It also includes photographs of the test region taken every ten minutes by the ice warning systems.
Fig. 1: The new Winter Maintenance Management System for Bavaria provides forecasts of icy road conditions for the coming eighteen hours on specific routes and helps maintenance services to plan their use of gritting vehicles.
A particularly interesting feature is the system's forecasting module, which supplies route-specific information on what parts of the road surface are likely to be affected by ice over the coming eighteen hours. This allows far better coordination of road-maintenance teams and clearing and gritting vehicles, resulting in much improved road conditions. The new system also allows more precise determination of the salt quantity required, which not only benefits the environment but is also good news for the state treasury, which until now has been spending an annual average of 400,000 tonnes of salt on Bavaria's roads. It is above all under wet and cold conditions at around zero degrees that the new system displays its strengths with its ability to make far more precise forecasts than were previously possible.
Joachim Herrmann sees the investment in this new winter maintenance system as an "investment in the digital future of motorway traffic". In the 2015/2016 pilot phase, which is already ongoing, the system is being deployed in 16 road maintenance depots and five highway maintenance services. "Thanks to the very good level of expert technical cooperation between the specialist departments during the development phase and the many positive responses that we have received from the users, I am convinced of this innovative approach's success, says Jens Voigt, who heads the project at con terra GmbH. The geo-IT expert from Münster adds, "for this project, it simply made sense to employ a platform that integrates all data by way of a spatial reference.
The WDMS-BY system has succeeded in creating a solution using a wide range of data and suitable technology that not only supports winter maintenance teams by providing them with clear and meaningful information but is also easy to use. The complex technology remains in the background where the coordinated, powerful geo-technology operates. The central component for the provision of geo-data and services comes from Esri, the world's leading supplier of geo-information systems, and the complex data transformation routines and processing operations are performed using the FME software produced by the Canadian manufacturer, Safe Software. The solution's other essential components are supplied directly from con terra. The security.manager module provides the necessary data security and also takes care of the organisation of user roles and rights, while map.apps is responsible for creating the user-friendly geo-apps. The apps are optimised for visualisation on the various devices, whether in the main control centre or in the on-board computers installed in the vehicles. They also form an essential key to the project's success, because interaction with the user takes places through the apps.
The new Winter Maintenance Management System for Bavaria is already playing a role in making Bavarian roads that bit safer, helping road users to get through the winter without accident. However, all those involved in the project urgently call on all car drivers not to forget that with all the modern technology and forecasting systems we have available, the most important things are, as ever, to adapt your driving to suit the weather conditions and to ensure that your vehicle is fitted with the appropriate type of tyres. In this way, every individual is called upon to play their own role in getting safely through the cold season.
Fig. 2: Approximately 400,000 tonnes of salt are spread on Bavaria's roads every year. The new Winter Maintenance Management System aims to optimise its use. Photo: Björn Wylezich / Fotolia
• Website Autobahndirektion Nordbayern: http://www.abdnb.bayern.de/