To prevent damage to roads that become vulnerable during a thawing period in the spring, state departments of transportation bar heavy vehicles such as semi-trucks from traveling on certain off-highway routes. But to determine when to place those restrictions, states such as Maine have had to rely on incomplete data. So using better data collection and plugging it into a decision-making platform, the state is able to predict when it will need to close the roads weeks ahead of time and set a reliable date for when the restrictions will be lifted.
That prevents the state from mistakenly allowing heavy vehicles on roads during their vulnerable periods, which keeps maintenance bills down. It also benefits trucking companies that rely on those roads to move goods, along with customers who want or need those products.
In the future, the data-collection infrastructure could also help supplement the information gleaned from other systems — for instance, flood tracking.
Ben Miller is the business beat staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.