The US Department of Transportation will finance up to seven innovative ideas to use the Clarus weather information system for improving road safety during severe weather.

Up to $80,000 per award is expected to be given in an open competition, according to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) administrator Peter Appel.

Clarus provides near real-time atmospheric and pavement observations from over 2,000 environmental sensor stations and 45,000 road sensors deployed by state departments of transportation.

The system gets data from transportation managers and weather providers in 36 states and three Canadian provinces.

“Applications developed using Clarus data could help someone decide not only whether to grab an umbrella, but also when they should travel and what routes they should take,” Appel said.

Clarus, launched in 2004, was set up by the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program along with the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office to reduce the impact of adverse weather conditions on surface transportation users.