City of Dayton takes the lead employing an innovative, automated, comprehensive, and efficient pothole inventorying solution to improve the approach to identifying potholes.

Abstract

In the summer of 2014, the City of Dayton allowed Road-Aid to inventory their potholes, patches, and manhole covers along 50 lane miles of mixed use roadways including commercial, residential and multi-lane highways.  Road-Aid quickly modified their feature extraction algorithms and analytic tools to quickly extract and separate the manhole covers from traditional pothole detections.  Pothole detections were formatted in accepted GIS formats such as shapefiles and KML with agreed attributes.  The manhole cover extraction supported a city initiative supporting the public works division currently manually inventorying, assessing, and reintegrating them with the road surface ensuring a flush and safe road surface.

Challenges

The 2014 winter was a perfect example of the challenges potholes pose.  The continual freeze thaw cycle caused typical annual pothole counts to be reached by March.  Further this is a cause for the rapid deterioration of the US road infrastructure.  Current approaches used by federal, state, and local entities have been poorly suited to effectively maintain these networks and range from employees walking the roads to identify and rate the condition of the pavement to having users call offices when identifying “potholes” to spending exorbitant amounts for Digital Inspection Vehicles that will collect detail regarding roughness annually and cracking and faulting bi-annually.

Approach

Using a vehicle equipped with custom Road-Aid hardware, Road-Aid drove over 50 lane miles along residential, commercial, and multi-lane highways, at speed, in and surrounding the City of Daytonn.  Road-Aid through a semi-automated process identified and extracted 43 potholes, 97 patches, and 32 manholes over a certain 6.74 mile stretch.

Lessons Learned

The City of Dayton and Road-Aid both benefited and generated numerous lessons learned from the results of this initial pilot, as follow:

  • Pilot Participant Engagement.  Effort must be dedicated to maintaining high levels of participant engagement.  Engaging senior leadership, helping generate publicity, building a community of peers to participate, and implementing at cost are approaches that can be implemented to increase and maintain engagement.
  • Product Readiness.  The final product is ultimately what is needed by officials responsible for maintaining safe road conditions.  Attributes that consist of location information, date, and a picture provide a minimum of information required for governments to address the pothole discrepancy.  In addition to governments and road operators, this baseline information product is extremely valuable to other customer segments.  Other attributes including size, frequency, growth, history can be value added features.
  • Technical Maturity.  The current level of maturity enables delivery of a viable product that successfully provides information that is not provided by other means.  Pilot execution allowed development of a repeatable workflow process baselining turnaround time from collection to report in less than 8 hours.  Product readily integrates with existing GIS solutions implemented by governments allowing potential products such as work plans to road repair crews.
  • Validate Assumptions.  Assumptions related to current collection approaches, opportunities for innovation, market need, and ability to rapidly implement a transformative and sustainable solution were all validated and refined through the pilot.
  • Identify Pain Points.  Discussions with local and city governments identified assets that can benefit from Road-Aid partnership and ability to efficiently inventory sensed features.  These assets include potholes, light poles, manholes, and more.  Current approaches are extremely inefficient and ripe for innovation despite a city with a population over 100,000, a history of innovation, and a growing technical base including Fortune 500 data companies such as Teradata, GE, and others.
  • Scalable.  Working through the collection effort allowed the entire PCPAD approach including technology, hardware, and processes to be efficiently scaled across any number of collection scenarios.  Further pilot efforts will allow further technical advancement including collection hardware, detection algorithms, and centralized geospatial analysis.
  • Understand Resource Requirements.  The pilot effort provides a great point of reference to estimate resource requirements (FTE, hardware, collection environment) to ensure pilot participants get the pothole data reports.

About Road-Aid

Road-Aid aims to transform the way infrastructure is maintained, 1 pothole at a time.  We are doing this by creating partnerships across multiple industries including insurance, government, and mapping.  We are also creating relationships up and down the entire ecosystem and value chain.