Utah Department of Transportation Uses Fiber Sensing Technology to Help Civilians

July 9, 2024
Fiber sensing technology proves to be extremely beneficial within the transportation sector.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) won the FOSA Project Award this year for utilizing Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), also known as, “fiber sensing” technology to better serve communities in Utah.

DAS is used in industries such as oil and gas, infrastructure, security and surveillance, environmental, and finally, as proven through UDOT, transportation. The technology is primarily utilized in monitoring and sensing applications as it transforms standard optical fiber cables into thousands of tiny virtual microphones that can detect acoustic vibrations along the length of the cables. In the case of transportation, by sensing the vibrations caused by pedestrians or vehicles, DAS can monitor traffic flow and detect incidents immediately.

DAS is cost-effective as it uses existing fiber networks and is scalable as well as it’s ability to provide continuous monitoring and real-time data without interruptions. UDOT utilizes fiber optic cables buried along the road to detect “acoustic events in the vicinity of the fiber” such as crashes.

Per UDOT, “Fiber Sensing allows information to be efficiently transmitted to the UDOT TOC. After information is sent to the TOC, it is then processed and used to inform the public about traffic or weather impacts. Individuals can access traffic and weather impacts on the UDOT Traffic app, see notifications on visual message boards, and get updates through other communication methods. The technology allows UDOT to keep Utah travelers informed, which increases mobility and safety.”

UDOT’s fiber sensing project is one of the first in the United States, and its goal is to provide critical safety and maintenance information. The network uses 2,700 miles of fiber within urban and rural areas of Utah and also provides connectivity to almost all traffic signals in the state.

About the Author

Serena Aburahma | Associate Editor

Serena Aburahma is a recent graduate from California State University, Northridge receiving a B.A. in Honor's English Literature. Serena has several years of writing and SEO experience, which include creating a variety of content ranging from cars and insurance to video games and pop culture. Much like the content Serena's written about, her interests vary as well, from writing poetry and stories and advocating for mental health, to playing video games, traveling, and reading.

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