Monitoring Rural Road Condition with Forestry and Land, Scotland.

Combining a 3D mapped landscape of the FLS road network with data gathered using IoT-enabled sensors deployed to capture information about the condition of the roads.

DigiFlec and Forestry and Land Collaboration: A Digital Revolution

As part of the CivTech 6 Accelerator program, DigiFlec have been working with Forestry and Land, Scotland to develop a digital transport management interface. This interface, or digital twin, is designed to facilitate good management decisions through access to reliable and current information about the road condition.

Local authorities and landowners currently face a paucity of information about the conditions on their roads. A big part of the reason for that is the time and costs involved in gathering data. This makes it difficult to make good decisions about where to focus efforts, and maximise time, material, and resources.

Steven Gillan, Director of DigiFlec

Innovative Project: Mapping and Real-time Data Capture

The project combines the digital mapping of the road network and IoT-enabled sensors deployed to capture live data about the condition of the FLS road network. The data includes readings on temperature, moisture in the road, and potential culvert blockages.

Challenges in the FLS Road Network

FLS oversees a 10,000 kilometre road network covering some of the most remote areas in Scotland, largely made up of unsealed roads that become weaker when wet and can be easily damaged by flooding. Having accurate real-time information about conditions will allow better informed decisions about road use at particular times. IoT sensors have so far been deployed in test locations on FLS roads to gather and transmit information about road surfaces.

Data Integration into a Digital Interface

The data will be integrated into a digital interface that displays the data in real time, as well as any long-term changes to the road’s condition. This will enable better maintenance scheduling and, ultimately, provide greater knowledge of the factors that impact a road’s deterioration, allowing decisions to be made to prevent excessive damage and better allocate resources for repair and upgrade work.

Broader Implications for Public Road Network Management

Reliable data gathering and the capability to deploy sensors in remote and rural areas could have wider applications for public road network management. Roads currently need to be checked manually, racking up potentially hundreds of miles of travel. While motorways and A roads are inspected annually for defects, B and C class roads are only examined every 4-20 years. Recent reports suggested that the backlog of repairs required for Scotland’s road network could cost as much as £1.7 billion.

At the moment, to plan maintenance and check the condition of our road network we need to survey and inspect our roads by physically driving into the forest to check its condition and level of deterioration since our last site visit.
With trips sometimes involving hundreds of miles of travel, this takes up a good deal of time and resources. These sensors will mean we have invaluable, up-to-date information at our fingertips regarding the condition of our road network and forewarning us of any developing issues.

Forestry and Land, Scotland

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