Urban NTCIP Road Sensor Station Applications
City and County of Denver, CO


Full Road Weather Information System (RWIS) installations provide valuable weather information, but can cost $50,000 or more per installation, limiting deployment. Lower cost Road Sensor Stations can economically provide surface temperature and surface status information that helps “fill in the blanks” system wide.

These specialized systems are particularly suitable in urban areas where a full RWIS station may not be needed, between full RWIS stations on highways, or at known ice trouble spots like shaded bridge decks. The information provided can help Transportation Departments make better road treatment decisions by not having to interpolate data from full RWIS installations far away.

      Denver road sensor station application


The systems are specifically engineered as a lower cost solution for monitoring road surface conditions at a number of locations. They systems are particularly suited as an add-on in highly concentrated urban settings.

Coupling a simplified passive road sensor technology with an advanced algorithm running in the roadside Remote Terminal Unit (RTU), the installations minimize the financial replacement cost should a puck be paved over, for example. The limited data provided from the Road Sensor Station results in a true NTCIP 1204 Environmental Sensor Station (ESS) at much lower cost than for full RWIS installations.

The unit’s small size, low bandwidth requirements and low power consumption allow easy integration with other Intelligent Transportation systems (ITS) equipment. The Road Sensor Stations can operate over a variety of communications technologies including Cellular, Ethernet, Fiber, or Spread Spectrum Radio. Many intersections with traffic signals, cameras and traffic monitoring already have additional data capacity, which simplifies adding the units on to existing systems and minimizes the investment required to implement these systems.

Four High Sierra Electronics Model 5721-05 NTCIP Road Sensor Stations were installed at strategic intersections around the City of Denver in April 2007. These economical systems have now been in use for an entire winter season and provide the Street Maintenance staff with valuable information about road conditions at those intersections .

In April 2008, Pat Kennedy, Senior Engineer with the Public Works Street Maintenance Division shared that " ... it will be snowing by this evening. Springtime in the Rockies. This is where your sensors are earning their keep. We can track the pavement temps and with that knowledge we've decided not to bring plow crews in, saving us a bunch of overtime bucks." Pat has observed that the Surface Status indication tracks well with actual conditions at the intersections.

The Road Sensor Stations are mounted within the traffic cabinet at each of the four monitored intersections. Also in the cabinet are the traffic signal controller and an IFS VR7200 - 2DRDT fiber modem that provides transmission of two independent video channels and two bi-directional data channels over one optical fiber. Video from cameras at the intersections is monitored at the City’s Traffic Management Center (TMC). The traffic signal controller and High Sierra Electronics NTCIP Road Sensor Station utilize the bi-directional data channels. In this implementation, the units are AC powered with battery backup.

      NTCIP Road Sensor Station Cabinet


NTCIP Road Sensor Station Cabinet


At the TMC, DEC Data Systems DataWise NTCIP base station software running on a dedicated server, polls the Road Sensor Stations once a minute, providing near real time indications of pavement surface temperature, sub-surface temperature and a Surface Status indication that the pavement is dry, wet or icy. The base station software provides graphical displays of conditions, sends text message and email notifications when user set conditions are met, and archives data.

The software can serve up password protected web pages for road maintenance departments and serves up open web pages for the public to check. The base station software can also feed data to other databases in order to populate Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) in Traffic Management Centers (TMC), Graphical Information Systems (GIS), and Maintenance Decision Support Systems (MDSS).

The new Model 5400 Series NTCIP RWIS Road Weather Station provides a full suite of weather and road surface instrumentation, along with traffic measurement. This innovative system is flexible enough to support a number of manufacturer’s Road Sensors. This sort of full blown system is essential for reporting a broad spectrum of environmental conditions and can be complemented by strategic installation of the Model 5721-05 NTCIP Road Sensor Station in areas between full RWIS stations.

Dan Miller, City Engineer for the City of Overland Park , Kansas, has several High Sierra Electronics’ Road Sensors installed around the city. Dan reports that “The data that we get from your road sensors has matched up very well with the data that we get from the road sensors at our City’s RWIS sites. While the High Sierra Electronics sensor doesn’t give the full range of data we get from our RWIS active sensors, it also doesn’t carry the $10K price tag that the active sensor does. Your sensor accurately gives us the current road status; dry, wet or ice. For a very reasonable price it allows us to get a more detailed picture of what is going on around the City.”

For more information, please contact High Sierra Electronics, Inc.



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