Winter Maintenance Decision Support System

Foreca's Winter Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) helps road authorities, contractors and municipalities make roads safer with proactive working methods and save money due to precautionary winter maintenance actions. The service is suitable for road and airport winter maintenance in any country.

Foreca has 20+ years' experience in providing road weather forecasts and services for winter road maintenance. Every customer has their own requirements and needs for the service. That's why Foreca provides a modular system that can be tailored to include a custom set of features presented below and configured according to specific maintenance requirements. As an option, the road weather information can be delivered as data through API.

Benefits

With the Foreca MDSS, you can standardize all the employees' decision-making methods, regardless of the diverse level of expertise, reducing the risk of human error in difficult situations. With standardized methods, your winter maintenance service-level quality can be guaranteed.

Having more time and the best possible information when making winter maintenance decisions allows you to make optimal winter maintenance actions. With the ability to reduce over-maintenance, i.e. rarely playing safe, there is room for massive cost savings. In addition, with the help of accurate forecasts and comprehensive weather monitoring tools, you are able to execute precautionary maintenance actions (anti-icing) more often, which requires four times fewer chemicals than reacting afterwards (de-icing). Optimal decisions will save both nature and your money. 

Foreca MDSS screen

The modular system can be tailored to include a custom set of features presented in this page and configured according to specific maintenance requirements.

Route-based forecasts

Route-Based Forecasts

Foreca route-based forecasts provide weather information along the roads, not just at station locations. Station based forecasts can be more accurate, but weather station networks are sparse. Route-based forecasts make full use of modern high-resolution weather data. The information given is showing the weather conditions both in the air (e.g. air temperature) and on the road surface level (e.g. icy road).

Easy-to-use

User-Friendly Interface

Login to the system with your web browser. It gives you instant insights into your maintenance area as the interactive road network map is colored according to selected parameter, like road temperature, road state, or residual salt. Clicking the road segments or road weather stations opens detailed information about the parameter. The graph shows the data from the past to forecasts on a timeline. The user interface is responsive but optimized for FullHD screen size or larger.

Accuracy

As accurate as possible

The road condition forecasts are based on Foreca’s road weather model, which calculates the energy balance and the amount of water/ice on the road. The main observation data sources for making road weather forecasts are satellites, weather radars, weather stations and road weather stations. In addition, vehicles used as sensors can also provide observational data from between the stations. The model can also use road meta data, such as location of bridges, typical traffic flow, etc. New model runs are usually done every 15-60 minutes, so the latest radar and satellite information can be integrated in the forecasts. Foreca’s advanced Nowcasting technology fuses radar, satellite and ground-based observations every 15 minutes to create a fresh forecast of the next couple of hours for key markets.

Your time machine to road status

Road temperature

Forecasts of road surface temperature are visualized both for road segments and stations. Iterating through the time steps shows the evolution of road surface temperatures through time.

The whole maintenance region is easy to monitor at a glance and the color scheme highlights risky road segments near the freezing point. For instance, the yellow roads are close to the freezing point (1...3°C) and red roads around the freezing point (-1...+1°C).

Overnight road temperature

The “Road Temperature Overnight Min” shows the forecast of minimum road surface temperature by road segment during the following night. This removes the need to step through all time steps just to find out if the temperatures are in the interesting range.

Road state

This feature colors the roads by the road surface state, explained in the Road Legend beside the map. Road surface states, like dry, wet, snow, ice and melting snow, are based on the road condition codes of the Foreca Road Weather Model.

In addition, The Network Summary graph shows you the number of kilometers in the network broken down by the surface state within the selected operating region. Quick mouse-over over the graph shows you the time steps when something is about to happen. This tool lets you avoid having to click through each time step, searching the map for possibly very short frozen road segments.

Road temperature

Road surface temperature (RST) colored on the map view according to the Road Legend. Selected road segment (dark red on the map view) is seen in detail on the graph below.

Sweden-Residual-salt

The view of Residual salt. Salt lowers the freezing point on the road surface making it important parameter when monitoring the road conditions.

Residual salt

Residual salt on the road is modelled as a function of traffic, precipitation and run-off. Dry, pre-wetted and brine can be specified separately. Other de-icing methods can be added as a further option – the basic processes of material removal are the same. This feature requires a real-time backchannel of spread salt amounts, and preferably also plowing data.

Salt recommendation

Salt recommendations visualize the recommended amount of salt that should be on the road at the selected time. This is useful if tied together with a real-time backchannel of spread salt amounts, and preferably also plowing data.

Friction coefficient

Friction coefficient (grip) forecasts are shown as colored road segments and stations. The values are based on forecasts of water film depth and ice/snow depth. You can mouse-over the road segments to see the friction coefficient forecast value beside the road.

Snow accumulation

Accumulated snow or slush on the road are provided to help monitoring the required plowing actions. Road status codes (colors) on the map are based on the snow accumulation against the road-specific plowing requirements, like when plowing should have been started and when the maximum allowed snow depth is estimated to exceed. Clicking a road segment shows the snow accumulation in detail on a graphical timeline. Read more

Mobile observations

Foreca Road Weather Model can ingest data from vehicle-mounted sensors to improve the road segment forecasts. This is especially useful if dedicated road surface sensors are available. All the parameters measured by vehicles are presented on a graph and on road network map with color codes. These drive-graphs may include data from many thousands of points, making it impossible to see all the details at the same time, so the graph includes a zoom function.

The mobile observations are providing measurements of road segments that do not have road weather stations. They are especially beneficial in mountainous twisting roads where weather conditions may change even at short distances. Foreca has successfully forecasted at 30 meters resolution when and where the mobile measurements are available. In some locations, mobile measurements together with road weather station information may reduce average road temperature forecasting errors by over half  giving a huge advantage in making decisions during the conditions where road temperature is close to freezing point and you are able to save costs in chemicals.

Atmospheric weather maps

Selected atmospheric weather maps can be implemented in the service as a separate module or as overlays on top of the road network maps. Weather information as color layers or numerical values can seamlessly be animated in a timeline from observations to forecasts. Typically used weather maps in winter maintenance are Precipitation type and intensity (radar + forecast), Cloud cover (satellite + forecast), Accumulated snow (observations + forecast) and Wind speed forecast (average and gusts)

Snap shots from the history

As an ultimate time machine, the system provides you with a snap shot of the situation in selected date and time in the past. The history view shows exactly the same situation as it was shown in the system at that particular time. It helps you to give reports from the past situations when needed.

Mobile-measurements

The view of mobile observations. Mouse-over on the graph shows the details and where that point is on the map.

A video about mobile measurements in road weather forecasts.

Intuitive to use

Road status summary

Interactive map & graph

The road network map and graph views presenting the route-based forecast are interactive. You can zoom, move and click the road segments in order to get all the details you might need on a time line.

Foreca maps are created specifically for this use-case. Its desaturated background colors make the data stand out and it includes more street names with clarity. A terrain overlay can be created by Foreca from DEM data. It is used only in areas with enough altitude variation to keep flat areas completely transparent, so map shows through.

Table view

Stations table

The table view shows data from the weather stations of the selected region. This is the most useful view for real-time monitoring of a group of stations.

The special “Now” functionality activates a mode that refreshes the station measurements once per minute and shows whatever is the latest measurement from each station, be it a minute old, or 20 minutes old.

Alerts

Maintenance Alerts

Maintenance alerts can be created based on the same parameters which are available in the map and table views. The alert management design-goal has been to provide users with maximal autonomy in order to minimize the administrative burden. Administrators can configure alerts for others, but users can also configure their own.

Typically, email pre-alerts are useful for forecasts like “freezing temps following night”, while SMS are typically useful for a quick heads-up of measurements crossing critical thresholds, like “road temp below zero now”, or “wind gusts over 50 mph on my bridge”.

Custom features

Individual

Individual look and feel

With the help of user management, the personalized views can be done with flexibility. Admin users can limit user access to certain roads or regions. This way, users can keep their focus only on the roads they are responsible for. They are also able to set the maintenance alerts individually for their own use.

To implement the individual maintenance areas, the region information must have been included in the road definitions provided by the customer.

Road-specific information

Road-specific information

Road-specific information, like different pavement types, road maintenance classes, maintenance regions, plowing routes or maintenance requirements, need to be delivered together with the GIS data if such are to be used in the service.

The route-specific information can be utilized in color codings, maintenance areas, maintenance alerts or maintenance recommendations according to customer's wish. E.g. different types of roads tend to have different maintenance requirements and responsible ploughers.

Recommendation

Recommendations

Foreca provides automated maintenance recommendations based on road-specific maintenance requirements. Maintenance actions are suggested when the requirements are met according to forecasts or observations.

Computer-aided weather forecast-based recommendations are the key to getting organized and having a standardized decision-making method for the personnel. That is especially helpful for all the new employees in getting closer to the same level as the more experienced supervisors, thus making training new personnel easier. With standardized methods, your winter maintenance service-level quality can be guaranteed.

Case examples

Case New Zealand

New Zealand

Foreca partners with Meteorological Service of New Zealand to deliver innovative road weather services to NZ Transport Agency. With the help of mobile measurements, we have been able to improve the forecasting resolution from 1km to 30 meters, which is a remarkable advantage for winter maintenance in the land of mountainous roads.

Read more

Sweden-Residual-salt

Sweden

Foreca provides MDSS for several areas in Sweden. The advanced modelling of residual salt and salt recommendations are innovations that make their service a special one. The salt information provided on the system provide benefits that you don't get otherwise.

Ask for demo

Case Finland

Finland

Foreca has provided a snow accumulation service for its customer, Finnish Transport Agency, responsible for supervising governmental roads in Finland. Read a case story of developing a DSS for winter maintenance according to a customer's wishes.

Case story

Contact us

All of these functionalities have been developed according to our customers' need during the past years. If you have some specific needs that our system isn't currently answering, please don't hesitate to contact us. Please advise Foreca regarding all such custom features so we are able to create a proposal that is as close as possible to an optimal solution.