Smart Roads May Keep You Connected to the Internet

June 6, 2018 - 3 minutes read

IoT app developersThe Internet of Things (IoT) is changing business operations every day. But consumers don’t see IoT developments in their own lives enough to understand the impact that IoT can truly have.

A Kansas City startup, Integrated Roadways, wants to change this by integrating IoT into our roads.

Smarter Roads = Safer Roads

The company’s concept entails replacing asphalt roads with smarter, factory-made, “upgradeable” concrete slabs. These blocks will be able to detect vehicles, know their location in real-time, and record speeds. The roads could also become the basis for a national 5G network with an integrated fiber optic mesh network.

These smart roads could also call first responders immediately, without parties having to communicate location, cause of accident, and how many cars and people were involved. The road could easily communicate those details upon dispatching the police or ambulance.

How Much Driver Data Is Needed?

Ongoing data collection would further optimize the roads, and drivers could use some of the data to plan for their commute. Drivers and their cars could choose the best route based on a variety of variables, such as road conditions, congestion information, and real-time updates on seasonal road openings and closings.

With the current social media data scandals surrounding Facebook and Twitter, data acquisition, privacy, and abuse are now becoming potential causes for concern for these integrated roads as well. There are also concerns with consent to data tracking and acquisition; if a driver doesn’t accept the terms, will they not be allowed to use the smart roadways?

CEO and founder of Integrated Roadways, Tim Sylvester, says personal data won’t be kept as part of overall data collection. “We aren’t going to say this is John Smith’s Lexus, but we can say that this is a Lexus.”

Some Testing Required

Many skeptics wonder if the smart roads are even necessary. If smart cars can alert drivers and other cars to road conditions and congestion, what added value would a smart road bring? For now, the 5G feature of the smart road is the best future-facing part of this concept.

Integrated Roadways says the roads will be self-funded by third-parties who pay to use road data for advertising on billboards or in-car. But again, the data issue comes back for concerned consumers, and rightfully so. The company plans to start testing in Colorado by partnering with the Colorado Department of Transportation. Maybe this testing will yield some insight into how much data will be generated, collected, saved, sold, and secured.

It will be interesting to see how the implementation of Integrated Roadways’ concept works. Connecting this with one of the San Francisco-based self-driving developers’ cars could create a truly integrated and connected road framework for consumers.

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