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Development of a Road Weather Information System (RWIS) Network for Alberta’s National Highway System


In support of Transport Canada’s call for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) proposals under the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program, Alberta Transportation identified the need to develop an ITS blueprint for Advanced Traveller Information and Traffic Management Systems along Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary. A major component of this blueprint study was to design a network of Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) for Alberta’s National Highway System in order to increase safety through enhanced winter maintenance practices and traveller information. The RWIS consultant used an innovative methodology that combined the road maintainers’ knowledge, meteorological information, other relevant environmental and geographical data, traffic and safety data, and multi-jurisdictional station data into a Geographic Information System (GIS) model. The first step in the Network Design identified important stakeholders within and outside of Alberta Transportation who will be affected or who can make a contribution to this RWIS network. Once user needs were identified, training sessions were held to assist many of the primary road maintenance users who had minimal exposure to RWIS and ITS. AT and contractor representatives then developed a list of candidate RWIS sites covering the NHS. The suitability of these candidate sites was evaluated from a macro perspective using the GIS model to ensure they were representative of the local regions.. The final phase of design involved data collection, micro-surveys for each individual site, and subsequent analysis of the site data and other relevant information. This ensured that equipment and sensors were placed to communicate data that was truly representative of conditions at the site. Developing this GIS decision support model required a balanced view of road conditions. This meant including problematic “ Hot spot” sites as well as a selection of “Trigger” sites that represented the conditions of a larger area. The model identified contiguous segments with similar maintenance requirements by associating them with the features that affect the degree of road maintenance required (e.g. topography, vegetation, meteorology, traffic volumes, proximity to water). The proposed RWIS architecture was developed in accordance with the ITS Architecture for Canada to facilitate data exchange with legacy systems and other ITS systems. The RWIS network may be able to feed relevant information to potential ATIS (Advanced Traveler Information System) and ATMS (Advanced Traffic Management System) for Highway 2. This will benefit the drivers with road and weather information in real time. The Alberta RWIS network model will serveas a blueprint for future network expansion should Alberta Transportation choose to expand the network to other parts of the province.

Conference Paper Details

Lo, A
Pinet, M