Steven D. Schrock
Chen Fei See
Thomas E. Mulinazzi
About the research
Communications between high-technology devices in work zones has long been a challenge. The problem is acute in rural areas where there is often little or no existing infrastructure to support wireless communication to the same extent as in urbanized areas. Despite this, there is often a desire to use real-time communications between new technologies to provide accurate work zone information to motorists or to remotely monitor work zone operations. An opportunity exists with new decentralized wireless communications technology known as mesh networks. Typically available in the license-free spectrums, a mesh network is by definition rapidly deployable and automatically configured, precisely what is needed to blanket a rural work zone.
The findings of this proof-of-concept study showed that mesh networking would be great fit to blanket the work zones in rural areas. The system used in this research was capable of providing enough bandwidth to allow over 500 kbps of continuous data at over 3500 m (2.17 mi), more than would be required for an online video conference (384 kbps) and also more than would be required for voice communications (120 kbps). This level of data transmission would far exceed that required to transmit GPS position data that would be required to update a CMS with an estimated time of arrival for queued vehicles waiting at a work zone.