For the project, JAMK has created an automatic entry system into a database, into which the goal is to eventually add all Croatian traffic signs. Each traffic sign is added to the database with its own RDIF tag containing an individual serial number. RFID technology is used in credit cards, for example, facilitating contactless payment.

“This system uses the same passive RFID technology as credit cards, but in an amplified manner. The metal of the traffic signs amplifies the signal so that it can be read from up to 30 metres,” says Technology Lecturer Mikko Keskinen, who has led JAMK’s efforts in the project.

In practice, the technology makes it possible for a passing car equipped with a suitable transmitter to read the information of all the traffic signs placed by the road, for example. The information indicates which sign is in question, when it was installed and when it should be replaced, etc. The system also detects any missing traffic signs, as each sign’s location information is entered into the database.

JAMK was responsible for designing the system and coordinating the project. In addition to implement the equipment itself and the related software, JAMK needed the expertise of the Jyväskylä-based company Aksulit Oy. The company focuses on developing applications related to proximity identification, but the Croatian project was the first of its kind.

“I could never have even thought of an application area such as this,” admits CEO Asko Puoliväli from Aksulit.

The co-operation generated the company’s first extensive delivery abroad and collaboration with Croatian operators. Aksulit delivered transmitter equipment for testing and other devices, as well as enough RFID tags for a distance of approximately 20 km, to Croatia. Plans for the future have already been made.

At first, the technology will serve road traffic safety primarily from the perspective of traffic sign maintenance and management, but in the future, the same technology can be used to facilitate actual smart roads that benefit everyone using them.

“For example, when your car is equipped with a suitable transmitter, another car attempting to pass you in winter conditions could automatically receive information from a traffic sign saying that passing is prohibited here, as it is not safe,” says Mikko Keskinen.

JAMK, Aksulit Oy and the Jyväskylä Educational Consortium Gradia have collaborated to test the technology since early 2017 in Finland, including in demanding winter conditions. The tests indicate that the system could also be implemented in Finland.

Keskinen says that there have already been preliminary talks about utilising the technology in Austria and Switzerland as well.