By Arun Kesavan
Infrastructure management is on the verge of a revolution — with new, cost-effective, real-time, remote, roadside asset management technologies empowering departments of transportation, cities, and others to move from a reactive, time- and resource-intensive approach to one fueled with timely data. The result: more-efficient and -effective workforce deployment, more-informed budget allocations and, most important, greater safety for motorists and road maintenance crews.
Remote asset monitoring works by attaching a compact device with built-in network communication to roadside assets, including crash cushions, guardrails and utility poles to name a few. It captures data on asset details — such as asset type, make and model, and install date — as well as location, status and impacts in real time. The technology aggregates the data on a single-source platform and sends real-time notifications, and email and text alerts as needed to flag issues.
Weekly asset status updates offer project life cycle cost savings. Initial calculations show the technology can cut the number of physical asset inspections by half and miles traveled for related tasks by roughly 30 percent.
Further, using a remote asset monitoring system to capture and organize asset data facilitates additional efficiencies when planning for preventive maintenance work. Longer-term, as the technology builds historic datasets, users get insights on asset life spans. With that information, they’re better able to identify replacement needs and prioritize budget accordingly.
Remote asset monitoring offers both immediate and long-term safety benefits. From Day 1, the technology helps reduce safety risks when assets are damaged. Because the device sends impact notifications within 60 seconds of an event, response times to inspect and take action when assets are damaged may improve by upward of 90 percent compared with traditional methods of notification.
The technology also minimizes the need for crews to complete inspections in high-traffic and dangerous places. The reduced need for physical inspection and the automated notification of events cut personnel risk by up to 78 percent.
Plus, as data is collected over time, users will be able to identify areas of frequent impact, determine if additional actions are needed and improve exit and turn design to improve safety.
Over the last 30 years, signaling, lighting and other traffic management systems have helped pave the way for additional advances, such as remote asset monitoring. The industry is just on the cusp of all that is possible with embedded sensors and connected platforms.
As these systems come on board, society will benefit. Measuring indicators, such as asset impacts and status, allows for more-effective management of taxpayer dollars. Understanding if budgets are spent effectively and having the ability to recalibrate as needed will help create safer roads.
Arun Kesavan is senior product manager – connected solutions with Lindsay Corporation, the product owner of the RoadConnect by Lindsay™ cloud-based telemetry platform that aggregates data from a variety of roadside assets. He holds a Master of Engineering degree from University of Utah.