Spread at the right time and in the right places the optimal amount of de-icers on the roads: this is the ambitious vision of the project Clean Roads, which aims to maximize the efficiency of winter maintenance operations and to minimize their impact on the surrounding environment.
The interaction between road and meteorological condition is a physical phenomenon characterized by a high level of complexity, since it is influenced by a lot of heterogeneous factors which are difficult to model. At present, the organization of the winter road maintenance activities is based mostly on locally coordinated systems, which rely on the subjective interpretation of the weather bulletins by the road managers. Salt is used both in proactive road treatments, in order to maximize the safety of vehicles, and also in case of snowfalls, in order to minimize the presence of snow on the road surface and thus the limitations to the movement of people and goods. However, de-icers have a negative impact on the environment and facilitates the corrosion effects of the infrastructure and the vehicles. This problem, amplified by the increasing trend in the reduction of the resources which are destined to the winter road maintenance, leads to a strong need to make a very efficient use of the available resources.
The actual level of maturity of the road weather models as well as of the data collection technologies opens today the doors for novel application scenarios for the winter road maintenance. The so-called Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) offer today the potential for significantly improving and simplifying the work of the road managers.
The vision of the Clean Roads project is to make extensive use of these advanced technologies in order to create the premises for more awareness, responsibility, and interactions between road managers and users, with the final perspective of the project of guaranteeing at the same time high safety levels, minimal de-icers consumption, and optimization of the available road management staff and vehicles.