Shape Technology Use IoT to Increase School Zone Safety

While driving around a city like Auckland, it can be easy to take the infrastructure and signage around you for granted. But these vital components of city living must be maintained. This is especially so with school zone speed limit signs. Where other signage applies 24/7, these signs need to be flexible. As such, a flexible design solution has been used by Shape Technology to keep them up and running.

Since January 2019, Shape Technology have been supporting the school signs seen across Auckland. Their implementation of IoT hardware, secure wireless IoT connectivity services and a web management platform has helped to keep them maintained and properly running during school pick-up and drop-off times. Over 970 school and speed radar signs now have this innovative technology installed, whether new or retro fitted. The adoption of this technology by schools and Auckland Transport is an excellent case study in the advantages this level of asset control can bring to Shape Technology’s clients and their stakeholders.

In this project Shape Technology was able to deliver three key benefits to AT. Firstly, the ability to retrofit old school signs deferred the need to perform costly and unnecessary upgrades to the signs. Secondly, the ability to monitor asset health to enable more efficient maintenance and servicing. Thirdly, it gives schools the ability to “set and forget” the controls for the signs, leaving them free of responsibility and administration the assets would otherwise require. Previously, all of these were reliant on the actions of each school to switch them on and off and the client had no feedback or info on the status of any sign. Ultimately this put children at risk, but no longer.

Shape Technology’s compact and capable hardware in the secret behind that first benefit. The solution has taken the core hardware they offer and customised it to fit Auckland Transport’s existing and new assets. This modular and customisable platform also gives Auckland Transport room to expand should they require additional functionality down the line. The solution currently supports monitoring of temperature, battery voltage and an accelerometer to name a few of the data points collected from each asset.

Those data points are then feed into the robust software platform that has been paired with the hardware delivered. These data points are that the system uses to assess assets, enabling predictive and preventative maintenance to be better scheduled. Additionally, data points such as the accelerometer can detect when something more catastrophic such as a collision has happened with the sign and dispatch someone to correct the issue as soon as possible.

The communication of this information back into the system is done via the latest in encrypted cellular IoT network technologies from Vodafone and Spark. Additionally, new assets from different sign vendors can be utilised by the system as well even if they use different communications hardware, using an API. In this way the Shape Technology’s system can be made to suit the needs of a client like AT who have numerous assets. Once in the system fault analytics, summary reporting, alerts, and system controls can all be accessed from a web browser.

The ease with which the system can be controlled is the greatest boon to schools. The system replaces the existing manual, key controlled activation, and deactivation of signs, including the responsibility of each school to manage this, by introducing the ability to set a regional school term schedule with on/off times, school-specific exclusions, and public holidays via the web interface.

Shape have used their dedication to resilient, smart, clean, and connected technology to improve the usability of these vital signs. Shape Technology have done this through a combination of controls ensuring that the school signs are operating at the correct times, and data monitoring ensuring that the school sign are in a functional state. The uptime of these signs is of utmost importance to the safety of Auckland’s school zones, and we are proud to have done our part over the last three years to improve them.

With this technology in place, Shape Technology is now looking at what the future of this implementation could mean. More signs are being added to the school zones managed by Auckland Transport into the Shape Technology IoT management platform, and with such a great result for them it is likely that we will see other council’s installing IoT technology into their own signs. Shape Technology is ready to embrace these newcomers seeking and increase in reliability and safety from their own school zone speed limit signs.

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