IoT Drives Road Safety Improvements

Create: 07/28/2017 - 17:43

Photo: Said El Said, Tennessee Dept. of Transportation, Traffic Operations Division


Driving is risky business. While autonomous cars are predicted to decrease road fatalities, we will certainly have to wait years for them to hit the road. Meanwhile, other IoT solutions are coming to market that can help drivers. These include systems that can help transportation agencies detect bad road conditions and communicate information to drivers in a timely way.

The key to these solutions is machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity. In 2016, connected devices numbered 8 billion worldwide, and M2M connections exceeded personal device connections for the first time. According to IDC, that device number will skyrocket to 80 billion by the year 2025—not to mention that by 2020 IoT will be a $1.46 trillion market overall. All of which puts IoT technology in a prime position to revolutionize almost every area of infrastructure, including improving what’s happening on roadways.

The unpredictable nature of bad traffic conditions and the hazards they bring are all too familiar to drivers across the country. Two companies, Cisco and Microsoft, are stepping in with helpful IoT solutions.

Smart Solutions for Hazardous Conditions

At May’s IoT World Forum in London, Cisco announced its collaboration with Microsoft to power intelligent actions—a combination of IoT and machine learning—to lend a hand precisely where and when it is needed to help prevent crashes on foggy roads. The company demonstrated a live mock-up of a fog detection system it implemented in the state of Tennessee, with the cooperation of the US Department of Transportation.

The system deployed on the roads of Tennessee uses the IoT Operations Platform to connect various smart devices that sense fog, traffic speed and other measurements, paired with illuminated traffic warnings that are activated when the fog rolls in. 

The demo proved that the IoT safety-improving solution could deliver during truly rough conditions. After re-configuring it in real time in the central platform, the Internet connection was cut, to illustrate how the solution was still able to successfully perform its function using distributed computing power alone.

IoT Goes North to the Future

Cisco has also been at work in the Last Frontier State helping facilitate the relay of information that is essential to keeping drivers safe on Alaska’s most remote stretches of road—specifically, its Dalton and Elliott Highways.

Previously, the state had no method that would allow them to quickly determine local conditions along these far-flung thoroughfares. Responding to weather conditions was fraught with delays, largely caused by the numerous calls necessary to find a person in the area that could give a firsthand report on any meaningful weather incident.

Alaska IoT transportation


In its effort to achieve absolute reliability in extreme weather conditions, Cisco leveraged IoT technology to implement radio, telephone and Internet communication capabilities along what is one of the harshest stretches of highway in the United States.

The company worked with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, deploying Cisco Connected Roadways solutions, Cisco Unified Communications solutions and Cisco Instant Connect. With the help of the new solution, the state improved communication, safety and emergency response in the field by better connecting people, things, processes and data.

Technology that Makes a Difference

If you or your customers are considering leveraging IoT transportation technologies to enable working smarter and safer, see how Intel’s Smart Transportation solutions can help

About Author

Patricia Schnaidt
Patricia Schnaidt is an expert business technology writer. She has held top publishing and editorial positions at InternetWeek, Network Computing, Windows Magazine and LAN Magazine. Schnaidt has written countless articles, lectured extensively, and authored "Enterprise-wide Networking" (Prentice-Hall). She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Columbia College, Columbia University.

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