Road Weather Data is a Precious Thing
“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves,”
said Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web.
Ensuring road weather station data delivery to our ground transportation customers has been the responsibility of Data Service teams in Boulder, Colorado and Birmingham, UK for over 25 years. For the highway winter service decision-maker, availability of such data to make weather-critical treatment decisions in a timely manner is certainly a most precious thing.
Every minute of every day throughout winter, road weather data is collected from thousands of road weather stations globally by the Vaisala Data Centers. This data (as well as other data) is then delivered to our customers using Vaisala Road Decision Support software (RoadDSS).
To ensure the best service delivery, between October 1 and May 31, our teams have the target of 99.99% for access to data through RoadDSS. Achieving this target means that there can be no more than a total of 34 minutes of unscheduled downtime throughout the winter period. For those of us uninitiated to data center management, downtime does not necessarily mean that data was completely unavailable, just that it did not meet the response target of being available within 10 seconds of the request.
During the last month of winter, the RoadDSS response rate was 100% and the whole winter average was an increase on the previous year. Furthermore, the number of people accessing the RoadDSS service increased by 15% compared with 2016/17. Interestingly, the highest weekly usage was recorded when a large anticyclonic polar continental air mass brought a prolonged period of cold temperatures and heavy snowfall across parts of Europe. In the UK, it was nicknamed the Beast from the East. During this time period, 6% of the total number of access sessions for the entire winter were recorded.
With the rapidly increasing number of data sources that our customers both grapple with and potentially benefit from, it is important to remember that although Vaisala plays a relatively small part in keeping traffic moving, it is critical to ensure that we strive for maximum uptime. Our systems are evolving, and as we move more services to cloud computing technologies, we aim to bring new applications to market more quickly. Hence, data is indeed a precious thing, and delivers more value to the decision-makers every day.
Satellite view showing Europe partially covered in snow under the influence of the anticyclonic cold wave nicknamed the "Beast from the East" on 27 February 2018.