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Gill Instruments’ WindSonic Wind Sensor Increases Bridge Safety in North Florida

The Gill Instruments WindSonic ultrasonic wind speed and direction sensor is being used as part of a new traffic network designed to improve safety on bridges in North Florida. The sensors are being installed on 22 bridges as part of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization’s Intelligent Transportation Systems program. Each wind sensor constantly monitors the wind speeds on the bridge and feeds the data through NOAA satellites to the FDOT. However, planners said the technology will be the most useful during severe weather. This summer, transportation planners are hoping that information will stream right to the laptops of JSO officers and other sheriff’s deputies in the area so that they know exactly when to shut down a bridge because of high winds. “We are starting to incorporate science into the decision and we are also able to share that information ahead of time on a scientific basis,” explained FDOT ITS Engineer Peter Vega, who is working on the project. Because they have access to second by second readings from the sensors, traffic planners will be able to see if the winds are getting worse or dying down, which will allow them to have a plan in place before winds become too dangerous for drivers. “Folks can get cut off very quickly if a bridge does close,” said Jeff Sheffield, Director of the North Florida TPO. “So it’s very important to understand the conditions and know how long we can maintain traffic flow on those bridges during these events.” Gill Instruments supplied the WindSonic sensors through Microcom Design Inc., based in Hunt Valley, MD, USA earlier this year.

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