Wireless technology cuts cost for road signs - Embedded.com

Wireless technology cuts cost for road signs

Wolverhampton, UK — Wolverhampton Council is saving up to £3,500 per unit by using wireless cell phone technology to update its road signs and is also cutting connection running costs by 30%.

Previously, the council updated roadside information signs with a wireline (PSTN) telephone connection from its central control system at the Urban Traffic Control Centre but it has now standardised on wireless GSM and GPRS modems supplied by Sequoia for all new and replacement signs to be installed under a five year contract.

Eight wireless signs are already in place, with a further five planed for this financial year.

John Charles, team leader, Urban Traffic Control of Wolverhampton City Council, says the savings in installation costs can be between £500 to £3,500 per sign, and monthly connection costs are about 30% lower for wireless connection as opposed to a fixed line connection.

“The cost of providing the PSTN line to our signs was becoming a significant part of our investment, as the signs were being placed in locations that were a long way from existing telecommunications cabling. We considered a number of alternatives, including radio, fibre, GSM and GPRS. We decided that cell phone technology offered the functionality we needed on the most cost-effective basis, and decided to adopt GSM initially, with a view to moving towards an always-on‚ GPRS connection in the future,” said Charles.

The Sequoia modems used by Wolverhampton City Council already offer both GSM and GPRS forms of communication, so that only an update to the control software is required to move to the newer technology, once the Council is satisfied that the mobile network provides sufficient reliability.

The GPRS wireless transceivers are a plug-in replacement for existing conventional wire line modems fitting inside the existing street sign assembly. Since the transceivers offer bi-directional communication at up to 115kbps, the sign can feed back status information as well as receive updates.

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