Finnish companies, authorities and research institutes have a long tradition of dealing with winter conditions. Key stakeholders in the winter maintenance branch have joined forces to develop new services and products.
Due to its geographical location and four seasons, Finland has had to adapt to changing weather conditions in designing, managing and maintaining its transport system. This necessity has led to the accumulation of winter-related expertise both in technology and best practices. Translating this expertise and experience into improved products and services would benefit both the companies involved in producing these services and the society as a whole.
The Finnish Road Weather Excellence (FIRWE) concept aims at doing precisely that. Launched in 2012, the goal of FIRWE is to develop a unified service, or solution, concept combining different products and services from different providers. The concept will enable different stakeholders in the weather service value network to develop and offer new value-added service modules that are compatible with all existing modules. The service and product offering is therefore much wider than it would be without cooperation. For end-users, this unified service provides better and more accurate road weather related services, and enables road weather information to be used in a timely manner in maintenance operations and when planning how to get from one place to another. Companies are exchanging feedback and new ideas in cooperative product and service development. A lot of expertise is involved with little extra effort.
The FIRWE group comprises four companies in addition to VTT:
- Arctic Machine: Data collection solutions for maintenance equipment and operations
- Foreca: Advanced forecasting methods for weather and driving conditions
- Teconer: Mobile friction measuring solutions
- Vaisala: Measurement solutions, road maintenance decision support system and data integration
- VTT: Socio-economic impact assessments, value networks, coordination
The first phase of testing was proof-of-concept, performed in winter 2013-2014 on main road 6 in southeast Finland. This was done in cooperation with the area’s maintenance contractor, NCC Roads. Pilot testing is to continue through the winter of 2014-2015 with FIRWE stakeholders, Destia (maintenance contractor), the Finnish Transport Agency, and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The pilot area is Vantaa, located next to Helsinki.
The FIRWE project is co-funded by Tekes (The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation).
Text: Raine Hautala