The article was originally published in the Newsweek Polska magazine.

Yellow, flashing light at an intersection does not mean anything good. This is an introduction to the patience-testing traffic jams and a signal to increase vigilance, because without the signaling working, it is not difficult to crash. Practically everyone knows the problem… but have you ever wondered what is happening next? Who finds out about the failure and how? Whose responsibility is it to fix it? What methods are applied to restore normal traffic and how much time is foreseen for this?

The maintenance of the road infrastructure is a priority for two groups of stakeholders – infrastructure owners and maintenance companies. The first group includes road authorities in cities, communes and voivodships as well as the General Directorate for National Roads and Highways. To ensure the smooth functioning of the signaling, they outsource repairs and preservation to the maintenance companies – the final effect depends on the method and speed of operation.

Automatic failure reporting

Until recently, the main source of information about faults were telephone reports from road users or the infrastructure manager. This is still the case in many regions of Poland, however in the Pomeranian Voivodeship, the problems in the functioning of traffic lights, street lighting and devices connected to Intelligent Transport Systems are registered automatically, through a technical road infrastructure maintenance management system. The implemented IT platform allowed to integrate the drivers of all devices connected to it, thus monitoring their actions and reporting any errors that appear.

– As a company that has been carrying out maintenance contracts for almost 30 years, we perfectly understand the problems faced by both infrastructure owners and companies providing maintenance services. To meet these needs, we have created the ELDRO24 platform for the management of road and roadside infrastructure. This modern software not only improves the maintenance process, but also allows all stakeholders to track its progress. – says Mirosław Eggert, president of the ELDRO Group.

How does it work?

Traffic lights are part of the so-called critical infrastructure, the efficiency of which affects the level of safety of road users. Therefore, one of the key actions is to improve its operation by implementing IT solutions, while the maintenance companies are required to systematically maintain and make ongoing repairs.

When failure reports were received only by phone, the actions of maintenance companies depended on receiving or not receiving the information. Many of the faults were not picked up or were only noticed after some time, which reduced the level of traffic safety. Since the implementation of the ELDRO24 system in Pomerania, the number of telephone reports has decreased from 100% to 9% – and at the same time there has been an almost threefold increase in registered failures. It is difficult to get a better picture of how many problems in the functioning of the infrastructure could not be diagnosed and removed without the use of an IT system.

– The ELDRO24 platform allows to monitor the status of devices in real time, i.e. on a regular basis. Drivers of devices such as traffic lights, variable message signs, passenger and parking information boards communicate with the platform wirelessly and send information about failures. Operators of the maintenance company – who oversee the system around the clock – receive this data instantly, allowing them to immediately assess the scale of the problem and react appropriately by repairing the device remotely or sending a traffic light emergency team to the site of the failure. – explains Damian Derebecki, Development Director at ELDRO TECHNOLOGIE.

Information in the system is saved in the form of so-called logs, i.e. data on individual incidents and actions taken by the operator. It allows to track the course of the maintenance process and enable the owner of the infrastructure to verify that the maintenance company complies with the guidelines contained in the contract. All maintenance contracts contain SLA (Service Level Agreements) requirements indicating the time frame within which the contractor must take actions to remove the failure and fulfill the task. This is an aspect that forces maintenance companies to effectively implement service activities and is crucial in settlements and charging penalties for failure to meet the terms of the contract. The clear and easy-to-use ELDRO24 interface enables the use of the system by both infrastructure owners and maintenance companies, as well as setting various access levels.

– It is worth noting that the ELDRO24 platform is a tool that is constantly evolving. We follow the development of new technologies and the Smart City industry, introducing new functionalities and fully reflecting the evolving process of handling notifications. Recently i.a. blockchain technology has been implemented, so far associated mainly with the financial sector. – adds Damian Derebecki.

Blockchain, also known as the “chain of trust” is a technology used i.a. in the field of authorization of photos sent as proof of a failure and the implementation of service activities. Digital confirmation (i.e. notorization) is a kind of certificate that guarantees that data and photos come from a confirmed source and have not been modified since their inception.

Operational, financial and… image benefits

– We have implemented the ELDRO24 platform in 2019 for the purpose of comprehensive maintenance of traffic lights on national roads managed by the General Directorate for National Roads and Highways, Gdańsk Branch. In addition, we use it in the implementation of maintenance contracts for devices installed as part of the Integrated Traffic Management System TRISTAR, operating in the Tricity area. – says Paweł Piechowiak, member of the management board of the ELDRO Group.

One of the advantages of such an IT system, giving direct benefits to maintenance companies, is the ability to optimize the maintenance schedules and forecast the demand for service teams. It has also become easier to prioritise the individual tickets and decide which failures should be resolved first. Maintenance companies from a passive contractor of commissioned tasks have become an active participant in the maintenance process, the role of which goes beyond repairing already existing faults. Thanks to the monitoring of the infrastructure and the ability to automatically generate the reports from data registered in the system, they can also prevent the escalation of technical problems and draw conclusions to improve the maintenance process.

What may seem surprising – the implementation of maintenance contracts with the use of ELDRO24 software does not increase the costs in relation to their implementation in a “standard” matter. This is because it enables more efficient planning and management of the maintenance process, preventing breakdowns and relating the contractor’s remuneration to the activities actually performed. It also enables the integration of devices from various brands and manufacturers, which significantly reduces implementation costs.

Thanks to IT solutions like ELDRO24, the road infrastructure enters the Smart City era, improving road traffic safety and comfort and making cities safer and more citizen-friendly.

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