Spring ahead brings thanks for SMART Winter Service

16 March 2021
Kent County Council vehicle.
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With Spring just around the corner, Kent County Council’s (KCC) Highways contractor, Amey is reaping the rewards from its SMART Winter Service programme.

Winter 2020/2021 saw Kent Highways teams not only deal with COVID, but the Brexit transition and the second Beast from the East, all of which had the potential to close roads, halt vaccine roll out programmes and stall the journeys of those using the network for emergency purposes.

Using SMART Winter technology has transformed the way the winter service is delivered on the contract making it more efficient and targeted, helping the operatives to deliver the service more effectively. Between 2017 and 2018 KCC introduced 120 Road Surface Temperature (RST) sensors across the County which measured road temperature and transmitted data in real-time during the winter period.

Using the sensor data that is collected and combining that with information from weather stations, KCC and our partners Amey are now able to develop a predictive road surface temperature model, that has enabled a refined set of domains to be produced. KCC can now select routes by domain more confidently.

Michael Payne, KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “Delivering an effective highway winter service is critical for keeping the main roads in Kent as safe as practicable during the winter months at this Winter has not held back, with blizzard like conditions and below freezing temperature challenging our teams.

“Working with Amey we’ve been able to use the data collected by the sensor technology to deliver a winter service that has greater defined areas, enabling our teams to treat the roads more effective and efficiently – transforming the service provided.”

The use of the RTS sensors, that are attached to existing street lighting columns and traffic signal poles, came about following a challenging winter season in 2017. It was identified that there was a sustained need to optimise service delivery to ensure demand was met during prolonged periods of ice and snow; particularly as such challenging winter events may become more frequent due to climate change.

Dave Matthews, Account Director for Amey in Kent, said: “This winter 2020/21 period has been exceptionally challenging for our teams, who have not only had to work under COVID restrictions, had to keep routes accessible during the Brexit transition and also faced the onslaught of the Beast from the East 2.0. 

“Tackling the winter weather this period, we’ve been using data from the road surface temperature sensors that have enabled us to gather data to better understand temperatures and provided the client real time information to make more effective gritting decisions.

“Working in collaboration with the Kent County Council we’ve seen a positive transformation of the way the winter service is delivered, providing confidence that the routes are covered correctly and operatives who would have spent time reading maps for gritting service previously can now assist with hand salting and clearing snow from footways.

“With Spring just around the corner, I’m incredibly proud of the winter service our teams have delivered for those living and travelling on the Kent network.”

This SMART Winter approach was recognised externally at the APSE Highways, Street Lighting and Winter Maintenance Awards 2020, winning in the category for not only for the innovative solution but also how the approach supports service delivery and ultimately road safety.

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