The benefits of Edge Computing in Work Zones

Is your Intelligent Work Zone leveraging advances in Internet of Things (IoT), and positioning the advantages of Edge computing?

As we've previously discussed, the vast supply chain of powerful, miniaturized, and power efficient chips and sensors from the smart phone industry can be leveraged to make work zones safer and smarter. To go into further detail of how we can leverage this global industry we have to understand Edge Computing.

Edge Computing is a method of optimizing cloud computing systems by performing data processing at the edge of the network, near the source of the data (sensor/camera/sign etc.) This reduces the communications bandwidth needed between sensors and the central datacenter by performing analytics and knowledge generation at or near the source of the data (the roadway)

When designing or buying hardware for use in your next Intelligent Work Zone consider this:
Roadside processing of data is very cost effective, and defining traffic is fairly predictable and definable into 3 categories:
Green - free flow, Yellow - congested, Red - stop and go.

A non IoT traffic sensor is polled by a remote server every 20 seconds requesting the data, 24/7/365. That is 6 data points per minute = 3,153,600 data points / year.

Let me reiterate that for you. One non-smart sensor generates:

OVER 3 MILLION DATA POINTS PER YEAR

Even with modern databases, that is still a ton of data to comb through, store, manage, and hopefully get some actionable information from - for just one sensor!

An Edge IoT sensor is continuously monitoring traffic based on 3 or more definable categories, and reports what you actually want to know - system state and health every 15 minutes, whether traffic changes or not.
For this example we will assume daily traffic state changes on an AM and PM peak plus one misc traffic jam per every day for a year.

System health - 35,040 data points/year
Traffic state change - everyday - 3,285 data points / year
Total network traffic = 38,325 data points / year

In Example 2, the sensor data is still being collected, its just being stored in the sensor for retrieval as needed or necessary, and has approximately 82% less communications for the same functionality.

There are additional benefits as well. Since edge sensors transmit less often, there is less power consumption, meaning smaller solar and battery requirements.
With smaller solar/battery comes improved safety and removes the necessity of non-crash approved category-4 trailers. We feel the less obstacles for motorists placed within the clear zone, the better.

The "less is more" trend continues, less server data storage means quicker determination and communication of events. Having the intelligence in the device also means easier installation with less technical expertise and experience needed.

All in all, we're finally seeing the benefits of the smartphone supply chain (fast processors, inexpensive sensor chips, high capacity batteries) come to fruition for the construction industry. This is a welcome addition to the toolkit of the twenty first century work zone.