Lessons Written in the Snow

Feb. 11, 2015

It's been a long, tough winter in a lot of the country, but after we're done whining about the cold and shoveling the driveway, there's still time to, if not make lemonade out of these lemons, at least prepare a cup of hot buttered rum. While we've been freezing and salting the sidewalks researchers at Nottingham Trent University are using scanners to find potholes, and the folks at VDC Research have been finding important lessons about the Internet of Things under all that snow.

I know it’s hard to believe right now, especially if you live in New England, but we are slowly coming to the end of another hard winter. If there was ever a case of past history indicating future performance, this is one. At some point, the snow is going to melt.

And you know what we’re going to get then? Potholes. Lots of potholes. Potholes are Mother Nature’s last nasty reminder that she always has the last word on winter.

Now, over in the U.K., where it’s also been known to snow from time to time, researchers are working on an early pothole warning system.A team led by research fellow Dr Senthan Mathavan of Nottingham Trent University is working on a system that combines 2D and 3D scanners on a pavement-monitoring vehicle and a computer vision algorithm to examine the road with accuracy at traffic speed during the day or at night. The system, which can be installed into existing hardware, works by detecting different textures of the road to identify raveling—the deterioration of the road surface that causes potholes—and distinguishes it from shadows and blemishes such as tire marks, oil spills and recent pothole repairs.The idea is to find the deterioration early—and not by a driver with a broken axle—when it is easier to repair.

The complete story is here.

And our friends at VDC Research in Boston, who have had more opportunities than they wanted to study the snow, have found some lessons there that can be applied to the Internet of Things. Steve Hoffenberg reports on five lessons that apply to both blizzard preparation and the IoT. Read them here.

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