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Winter gritting cost savings

The challenge

Under the current system, treatment of the gritting network is triggered when specialists' forecasts predict that ice or snow is going to form on road surfaces in each region within Norfolk. This is driven by observation stations installed across the network. The road network is diverse, and it might be the case that not all parts of the network within each region will require gritting. Officers say that significant parts of towns and the city due to its urban nature, are likely to be warmer than the rest of the gritting area they are in.

Our solution

Using the long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) a denser network of monitoring sensors have been embedded on some of Norfolk's roads. The data from those sensors will be used to provide a cost-effective way of determining whether each part of the network could be treated less than currently. This saves salt as well as fuel and driver time by operating gritters less.

This provides the same service to road users for less money, with environmental benefits, including a reduction in carbon emissions.

Real world benefits

The internet of things (IoT) sensors and LoRaWAN technology successfully produced early stage results from one route showing that eight treatments could have potentially been saved. This produced a saving of £4,000 in 2019-20.

There are 48 routes across Norfolk, and gritters treated 99,000 miles of road throughout the 2019-20 winter season. That's almost enough to drive round our planet four times. The cost of supplying and installing the six IoT sensors was around £2,000, so the payback period for one route would have been less than one season.

Watch how we are using LoRaWAN technology to know when to grit

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