Tools and technologies as a solution for gravel roads maintenance

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Review of the Literature

Chapter two begins with reviewing published literature generally until the main research topic is reviewed. The chapter begins with the topic cloud-based systems, then moves to the topic information needs in general until it relates it to the gravel roads. Afterwards, some tools and technologies regarding gravel road maintenance are mentioned and lastly, factors that are most important to this study are presented in a figure.

Cloud-based Systems

With the evolutions and advancements of technology, a huge amount of information is shared online in so-called cloud environments that facilitate the creation of cloud systems including cloud-based information systems (Schmidt, 2012). Schubert, Jeffery and Neidecker-Lutz, (2010) define the term ‘cloud’ as an open resource system that involves many stakeholders and offer multi-granular services at a defined quality level of services. They also designed a model to display the aspects forming a cloud system. The model was used later on as a resource in many researches, such as Kostantos et al. (2013); Thiel et al. (2015); Nguemaleu and Montheu (2014); and Vermesan and Friess (2011).
Kiswani, Dascalu and Harris Jr (2018) proposed a reference architecture for designing cloud-based Information Systems. The proposed reference architecture consists of five layers (p.852):
Edge services which are the front line of software in the cloud, that are open to clients. These applications are web browsers, smart devices, IoT devices, etc.
Application services which provides business logic services for the applications such as domain logic and the functional requirements.
Metadata services are responsible for the services needed for dynamic user interface generation and the functionality of data access.
Cloud infrastructure services contain services that are vital for enabling ‘cloud applications features’ such as multi-tenant support, tracking and analysing.
Cross-cutting services are there for the support of all the other layers such as configurations, protection, and facilities.
The researchers pointed out that the proposed reference architecture is to be modified based on each software demands. Lastly, as every system faces threats, so is the case for cloud systems. In Thiel et al. (2015), a list of the top threats that could be faced is provided, for example, Data Breaches, Denial of Service, Malicious Insiders or Shared technology issues. These among other threat should be taken into account when designing a cloud system.

Cloud-based IS as a solution

A cloud-based information system is thought of as a solution for many problems related to traditional systems, such as those stated in Padhy, Patra, and Satapathy (2012). In their paper on rural healthcare centres, many issues that could be solved by a proposed cloud-based information system were mentioned. For instance, storing patients’ data in a locally managed infrastructure can be improved if healthcare data is kept and processed in the cloud by healthcare centres. This allows data providers to manage and access data faster and easier through the internet (Padhy, Patra, and Satapathy, 2012). Zhang (2012) suggested using a web-based information system to solve concerns related to issuing ‘large-scale species range maps’, which benefits ecology and biogeography research.
Some researches focused on improving the maintenance of railways using cloud computing. Morant, Galar and Tamarit (2012) suggested applying data mining techniques to transmit railway’s maintenance data, in addition to using an asset cloud to gather and manage data. Thus, cloud computing and data mining can solve problems regarding configuration, access to data, and changing control management processes. In addition, Kour, Karim and Parida (2013) used cloud-based technology as a solution to enhance the process of railway maintenance. This technology was used to form the information logistics, which managed different railway system related data. Adding on, Wang, et al. (2014) investigated the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), and addressed the problem of the recovery of disposed equipment. This problem was caused by, among others, the lack of a coordinated strategy to combine the different sectors of remanufacturing. As a solution, a cloud-based WEEE remanufacturing system was developed which provides cloud services and well-managed information over the entire product lifecycle (Wang, et al., 2014).
Yao et al. (2014) investigated a solution for the issues regarding traditional health information technologies (HIT) in China. The issues were: time-consuming and ineffective control of the entire system, mismanagement of vital data allocation, and the obstacles between customers and the server. Moreover, as the aim of the study was to deliver hospital information services to Grassroots healthcare institutions (GHIs) using an effective secured architecture, the researchers proposed a Cloud-based hospital information service delivery platform which integrates hospital information systems.
Furthermore, Mourtzis et al. (2016) addressed problems related to distributing vital information on the current status of machine and cutting tools to concerned departments. The researchers proposed a cloud-based monitoring system. The system would result in reduced maintenance time and higher production rates as a result of getting updated information of any failure in machine tools. Also, Chang et al. (2016) suggested using a cloud-based maintenance system, for problems related to the maintenance of warehouse equipment. Lastly, Mourtzis and Vlachou (2018) proposed ‘a cloud-based cyber-physical system’ for flexible shop floor management and maintenance dependent upon shop floor situation. This system aims to, among others, increase awareness, improve maintenance of machine tools, and enhance decision making.
Stakeholders have a major role in any cloud system, they are the main users of the system who rely on the service providers to design a system that offers demanded services. Thus, knowing stakeholder’s needs is vital as they involve in acquire cloud services (Wollersheim, Pfaff and Krcmar, 2014). As a summary, a future cloud-based system would be beneficial compared to other systems. For instance, users can manage and access data faster and easier through the internet. The system solves configuration problems; enhances control management processes; reduces maintenance time and improves production rates.

User requirements in cloud systems

In order to build a cloud system, there are some requirements that need to be fulfilled. These requirements relates to the stakeholder’s aspect. Rimal et al. (2011) discussed many points that have to be considered when designing a cloud system, including having transparency regarding costs and usage of the system; privacy concerns regarding storage of sensitive data which affects users trust; service level agreements (SLAs) between providers and users; assist users to adapt and learn to control personal information in the cloud system; and aiming to design user experience (UX)-driven cloud system.
Clarke (2010) identified some related user requirements of cloud computing infrastructure, such as assurance of data and service integrity; complying with legal requirements which comprise, among others, service and data transmission security, service access controls, and data disclosure; service and data reliability, compatibility and flexibility measures; and privacy policy enforcement.
Another study aimed to develop a cloud-based Building information modelling (BIM) solution through several objectives including identifying practitioners’ needs and requirements. Alreshidi, Mourshed and Rezgui (2018) found that users had ‘Socio-organisational and legal requirements’, such as: improving communication; raising awareness; provide help and support, in addition to many technical requirements, such as: having a notification system; to be able to share and exchange data online; getting security checks for online models; and customized user interface.
Tomzik and Xu (2017) investigated about a cloud-based control system that interacts with soft-tissues and focused on deriving the requirements for that system. The results shows some requirements regarding connection, computational power and usability. Connection requirements include permanent remote connection; short timing of responses; sufficient bandwidth in cloud infrastructure; network connectivity and safety measures. Computational power concerns the cloud infrastructure; and algorithm scalability. Usability refers to having a standardised interface; independent platform; and adaptable system.
Moreover, research by Chauhan and Probst (2017) identified many architectural significant requirements for building a cloud-based system. The requirements were categorised into classes as follow:
Quality Specific Provisioning that deals with initialization, run-time system behaviour, Service Level Agreement (SLA) achievements, types of user systems and services, and end-user device.
Interoperability and Integration that relates to offering a clear system interface, governing cloud federation.
Security and Privacy concerns data and services access, dealing with multi-tenancy, encryption requirements, trusting the cloud and services, legal and regulation requirements, and the liability of the hosted services.
Collaboration requirements deals with communication internally and with heterogeneous cloud-environments and external services, service interface, and service end-points
Monitoring requirements regards checking compliance and system configuration concerning quality requirements changes, quality parameters, and resource discovery and composition.

Information needs

Starting with the term ‘Information needs’, a researcher must comprehend the exact meaning of the term to avoid any interpretation issue. Line (1974, p.87) defines the word ‘need’ and other related expression that were incorrectly used in the literature.
NEED is ‘what an individual ought to have, for his work, his research, his edification, his recreation, etc’. It is when a person experience abnormal state of knowledge and figure out the knowledge gap and decide to fill it normally is when Information needs appear (Herman and Nicholas, 2010).
WANT is ‘what an individual would like to have’.
DEMAND is ‘what an individual asks for; more precisely, a request for an item of information believed to be wanted’.
USE is ‘what an individual actually uses’.
REQUIREMENT ‘is a useful bridging term; it can mean what is needed, what is wanted, or what is demanded, and can therefore be usefully employed to cover all three categories’.
After exploring the difference between the terms, information needs assessment should be performed. This is the stage where the characteristics of information need are described. Herman and Nicholas (2010), stated that characteristics related to information needs are subject; function; nature; intellectual level; viewpoint; quantity; quality/authority; date/currency; speed of delivery; place of publication/origin; and processing and packaging. These points could be considered when assessing the information needs.
Furthermore, Nicholas and Herman (2010) discussed some factors that determine information needs in another study, such as work-roles and tasks; personality traits; gender; age; country of origin and cultural background; information availability and accessibility; information appetite and threshold; time availability; and resources availability and costs. These factors concern stakeholders of the cloud-based information system that will be designed.

Information needs: elicitation methods and results

In the following, previous studies presenting information gathering methods are described, beginning with Song et al. (2010) who investigated information needs of general dentists for the aim of designing an effective clinical information system. The researchers used semi-structured interviews for data collection, and thematic analysis for analysing data. The results shows a need for access to information about different subjects in a timely manner; improved visual representation of dental problems; links to case-specific evidence-based information; and precise, full and reliable patient records.
Becker et al. (2011) on the other hand focused on finding information needs from service and manufacturing processes. They collected data mainly through semi-structured in addition to observations, document analysis and system analysis. Then in-depth business process analysis was used. The results identified several information needs of, among others, customer solution and records; shipping note; acknowledge base; resource calendar; work plan.
Lammintakanen, Saranto and Kivinen (2010) performed a different research that aimed to reflect nurse managers’ awareness of electronic information systems in their daily work. The problem with the information system was that it did not meet their information needs. The researchers collected data in focus groups and analysed data using ATLAS.ti computer program. The results suggested further studies on information needs of nurse managers across different organisational levels. Some studies built information needs models, such as, Shih et al. (2012), for compensating a lack in current descriptions. The proposed solution was ‘an information needs radar model’, which assess and gather information about user’s needs.
Hörold, Mayas, and Krömker (2012) addressed information needs of users of public transport with intent to design a user-centered passenger information system later on. The process of determining those needs began with identifying the workflow of users; identifying the tasks needed to reach a destination; identifying related information that ‘support the tasks’; and identifying personas of passengers. The study concluded several information needs of different passengers including ticket, location, time, connection, network plan, vehicle, and disturbance information. Each passenger varies in his or her need for every type of information.
Wollersheim, Pfaff and Krcmar (2014) investigated the information needs of organizations in the form of characteristics, which are needed when procuring cloud services. The researchers collected data by interviewing 16 different organizations. Thereafter, a quality model named Systems and software Quality Requirements and Evaluation (SQuaRE) was used to structure the collected characteristics. This model was designed based on ISO/IEC 25010 (2011), where it is concluded that the quality of a system reflects the degree to which the system satisfies the specified and implied needs of different stakeholders and hence provide value.
Wollersheim, Pfaff and Krcmar (2014) identified information needs when procuring a cloud service, including information about type of functionality the service is offering; guaranteed availability of service; supported interfaces to application services; number of factors determining a service’s fee; and many other information needs. Adding on, Al-Nayeem et al. (2017) explored the information needs for validating evolving software systems. The researchers surveyed 194 Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) at Google to know their information needs. The results show that SREs at Google have an extensive range of information needs, which were of a little focus in related past studies that considered ‘source code change’ as the major need.
Moreover, Buse and Zimmermann (2012) mentioned how important it is for software development to figure the information needs of development managers. Therefore, the researchers conducted a survey-based study to find information needs of 110 developers and managers at Microsoft. The researchers pointed out that the world is heading into a more data-driven software development and that enormous amount of data will form as a result of Web services and the cloud. Thus, to make the right decisions, people have to understand which information are needed.
Lastly, to capture the importance and solution of data availability and knowledge sharing, Lingegård and Lindahl (2015) addressed some related issues for the railway facility in Sweden. The researchers wrote that the Swedish Transport Administration is considered the responsible actor of the railways in Sweden, whose system provide incomplete and undetailed information about railways, because of contractors who are not motivated enough to provide more details from their operations. There is also the problem of inability to share information from contractors back to the Swedish Transport Administration and project designers. Thus, as a possible solution, if information and knowledge about failures and possible enhancements are transferred back, the existing system will improve the situation.

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Gravel road information needs

After reviewing the literature, there were insufficient results on the topic information needs with gravel roads, which suggests a gap in the literature. In Kans, Campos and Håkansson (2019), the researchers mentioned that roads typically consist of two layers: sublayer and surface layer. The road standards, which was mentioned earlier, is usually determined using four parameters: edges of the road; irregularities on the road; loose accumulations; and dusting. In addition, information about traffic frequency on the gravel roads are important as well for decision making.
Saarenketo (2005) focused on investigating road users’ needs and designing a monitoring system. Some of the discussed users’ needs were information about traffic safety issues such as uneven frost bumps, steep hills and tight and narrow curves; accessibility to roads, which can be limited due to snowstorms, avalanches block the road, spring thaw, and erosion after heavy rain; and other specific issues related to functional and structural conditions.
The functional conditions, which occur in summertime, could be due to the unevenness, potholes, wash boarding, dusting and firmness. As for the structural conditions, they could be related to drainage, frost heave and roughness. As for the proposed monitoring system, the author suggests noticing some key factors that are needed for an improved system. Those factors comprise, among others: road referencing system; road survey and monitoring system; software and data formats, etc.
The design of a suitable monitoring system could rely on the following factors that were described in (Saarenketo, 2005, p.46): Sensor type and amount, Location of sensor installation, Data collection density, Positioning (especially when using moving vehicles), Data transfer, Data storage and processing, Implementation of the data and decision-making system, and Information system. The author predicted the formation of the internet and wireless communication system; this will facilitate the exchange of information between the road owners and road maintenance contractors. This agrees with the aim of the ongoing project.
Many factors influence the operations and maintenance within gravel road ecosystems, as mentioned in Alzubaidi (1999). One factor is road standard. Depending on the class of the road standard, which varies from 1 to 4 (Jacobson, 2014), the frequency of the maintenance measures are performed. A higher road standard decreases traffic costs but increases road management costs. Moreover, Traffic dependent factors are considered vital to the extent of maintenance work. Such factors are traffic volume; traffic composition; and vehicle speed.
Geometric factors refer to the width of road; and alignment and profile of the road, and physical factors refer to the composition of the wearing course; type of landscape and the surroundings of the road; and buildings. In addition, there are some meteorological factors, which are geographic-related factors such as sunshine hours; road conditions when it snows; and humidity. In addition, Alzubaidi (1991) mentioned some major issues that face gravel roads surfaces, which were among others dusting; corrugation effect; having potholes; drainage of water; loose gravel; and damage from frost. All the mentioned factors influence the maintenance costs of gravel roads. These factors are information that needs to be shared. Thus, it is important to keep track of these factors as they influence the information needs in the gravel road ecosystem, regarding maintenance measures, to avoid unnecessary costs.
Additionally, Rashedi, Maher and Barakzai (2018) aimed to capture the current condition of gravel road management in Canada and how much data is collected regarding gravel roads. They examined the elements of a Gravel road management system (GRMS). Such a system needs to include an essential database that stores and maintains inventory, condition, and restore history of paved and gravel roads. Other information to consider are agency policies such as maintenance policies; performance prediction models; and financial analysis for surface upgrade decisions. Lastly, information about structural capacity, drainage, traffic characteristics, road geometry, and opinions of local residents.

Tools and technologies as a solution for gravel roads maintenance problems

Kans, Campos and Håkansson (2019) presented a new measurement method for gravel road’s condition, which is less-sensitive than the previous techniques in regard to the road roughness and to vehicle’s speed and dynamic characteristics. It aims to capture accurate information on the topology of the gravel road surface. The researchers also described some used practices for classifying and monitoring the condition of gravel roads. Some techniques are used to test gravel road surface roughness, such as Laser Road Surface Tester (Laser RST) and laser scanning technology LIDAR. Also, the roughness of the road can be determined using vibration sensors on smartphones, such as a system called Roadroid that measures road roughness (IRI) using an accelerometer and Global Positioning System (GPS) that saves the data location, as described in the report by Bäckström (2017).
Other techniques are used to measure the road thickness of the subbase layer using ground penetration radar (GPR), as described in TerraTec (2017). The radar transmits electromagnetic waves into the sublayer and receives the reflected waves to detect changes. Lastly, Odelius et al, (2017) described an industrial internet application that uses sensors on smartphones that are attached in-vehicles. This technology combines both data from the weather condition with data from the moving vehicle’s sensors to enhance road maintenance in winter.

Table of contents :

1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Purpose statement and research question
1.3 Topic justification
1.4 Limitations and delimitations
1.5 Thesis Organisation
2 Review of the Literature
2.1 Cloud-based Systems
2.1.1 Cloud-based IS as a solution
2.1.2 User requirements in cloud systems
2.2 Information needs
2.2.1 Information needs: elicitation methods and results
2.3 Gravel road information needs
2.3.1 Tools and technologies as a solution for gravel roads maintenance problems
2.3.2 Factors that are important for gravel road stakeholders’ information needs
3 Methodology
3.1 Methodological Tradition
3.2 Methodological Approach
3.3 Data Collection method
3.4 Data analysis method
3.5 Reporting and interpretation of data
3.6 Reliability and Validity
3.7 Ethical considerations
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Stakeholders information needs from interviews
Theme 1: Fixed gravel roads-related information
Theme 2: General opinions about the effect of weather on gravel roads
Theme 3: The different effects of weather on gravel roads conditions
Theme 4: On road traffic factors affecting gravel roads structure
Theme 5: Information about gravel roads maintenance
Theme 6: Dependency on technology
4.2 Similarities in answers
5 Discussion
5.1 Discussion of findings
Road Identification
Weather condition
Road condition (accessibility/functional issues)
Traffic factors
Maintenance policy
Other needed information
Intention to use the future information system
5.2 Explored information needs of gravel roads stakeholders
5.3 Summary of explored and pre-defined information needs
6 Conclusion
6.1 Conclusion
6.2 Contribution
6.3 Future Research
6.4 Acknowledgement
Appendix A: Informed consent letter
Appendix B: List of possible interview questions
Appendix C: Final template of themes


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