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Pothole-Free City

A new technological method to put an end to potholes.

Photo of Sarp Bilecen
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Potholes may seem like a minor annoyance, yet according to European studies they are a factor for 52.7% of all lethal accidents, and road maintenance is one of the largest burdens on the city budget.

Perhaps unintuitively, one of the major issues with road maintenance is finding where road damage is, and prioritizing between many. It is impossible for a few town engineers to know everything and correctly decide which to fix.

So the standard procedure is that cities receive information on roads through their engineers and "report a pothole" lines and apps. Which means, the citizens/complaints are the main sources of knowledge and here is the catch, all complaints are about major issues that are expensive and time-consuming to fix. No one complains about the tiny crack that just started forming!

We propose to add technology to this whole system, decrease the complaints for there will be no major issues to report anymore.

In a step by step form;

A) We propose to scan the streets 4 times every year using vehicles equipped with high tech acoustic scanners and cameras. Finding EVERY problem on the road network.

B) Because acoustics can determine the sizes of these issues, we can prioritize between each and every one of these. So engineers can fix small problems that are on their route, not just major issues. Caltrans suggests this saves 9 dollars for every dollar spent in one year. (Because potholes don't grow large any longer)

C) We propose software that can manage teams/engineers and any further complaints using a geographical information system, maps to visualise the issues.

Allowing the citizens to drive on perfect comfortable roads, all the while costing the city about 10 times less to maintain!

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

We touch the daily lives of citizens, as potholes are one of the major components of road accidents. According to EU studies, they cause 1/3'rd of all accidents and have a role in 52.7% of all lethal accidents. This idea is providing citizens with comfortable and safe roads. The user journey, however, has nothing to do with citizens, the idea will be used by the city public works. Simply the user journey of public works is; 1) A scan will be concluded through mentioned scanning vehicles. This will upload the entire road network into the software. 2) On the software, the department of public works can see where each and every road damage is, their size, importance, and photographs. 3) The software can both be manually used to assign tasks to maintenance teams and engineers, alternatively, the system can also be automated to the preference of the public work. The system is designed to be efficient and easy to use.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Fully Scaled - you have already scaled your solution and are exploring new use cases

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

We are currently using this system to maintain over 4000 miles of roads, handling road damage for the traffic of 3 million people every day. Through use cases, we have seen that complaints can be decreased up to 50%, and maintenance costs can be decreased up to 82% depending on area/usage.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

We are a team of 5 young entrepreneurs, and our work can be found on our website . We are passionate about city management and we believe in sustainability and efficiency as our primary values. This is why we have formed a company to assist cities with new technologies, handling many issues from road safety to park management.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

As the area is very small the major costs will be the transportation of the system and integration. Aside from that $50.000 is an overestimation, this will roughly cost $20.000-$25.000. This includes transport, integration to a vehicle, scans, server costs, software, and user access.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

We'll transport and integrate our hardware system to a vehicle in the area and start the scanning of the given area. Depending on the size of the area the funding required may be less than the anticipated budget. The scanned data will be conducted through a mobile network and transferred to a server. On this server, users will be assigned roles, and their dashboards will be configured to fit ease of use. During the pilot, new features may be added to the system that meets the cities demands. We already have hardware built and software developed for this issue, thus we won't be needing any funding for previously developed technologies.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We would like to launch a full city scale solution as a pioneer in the surrounding states and cities. In order to do that, we first would like to demonstrate that the city can benefit from finding and fixing road issues. This small pilot will show two very important developments in the city. One will be seen immediately after the first scan, a decrease in complaints. The second, decrease in the budget usage will be visible in 6-12 months.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

A major cost in our idea is the integration, vehicular and transport costs. After the pilot we will keep the integrated vehicle in the area, making it very sustainable and scaleable to nearby cities. In this case, we expect the area to request two city-wide scans per year, this will be sufficient to keep the vehicle in the area.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mackenzie Fankell

Sarp Bilecen Thank you for your proposal! I am a Michigan Central Station Challenge facilitator. Potholes and road quality are definitely a big issue in Michigan. I'd love to hear more about how you would hope to design the pilot. It sounds like you will scan the roads and repair the roads as a part of the pilot. Who would be in charge of repairing the roads? Where would the funding come from to fix the roads? Would you need to work with the city in order to understand how the budget might benefit from this service? Thank you!

Photo of Sarp Bilecen

Mackenzie Fankell 
As a team that designs smart city solutions, we believe that our solutions should give the cities more control. If we were to repair the roads ourselves, I feel that that would make us a service provider with a smart solution. This would certainly be against the smart cities' vision we have.
Instead, we want you to have more control over your actions, We want to show you that your city can use the annual road repairs budget more efficiently.
Our pilot will show you two things;
1) You'll know the exact location, size, and importance of all current and (more importantly) upcoming road damage. You'll have a birds-eye view over your city, and instead of deciding to fix problems based on complaints, you'll actually know what has higher priority. This allows you to go beyond complaint management, as if you decide to fix all high priority issues, you will stop receiving complaints. It's disruptive in the sense that the pilot makes road damage complaints obsolete.
2) The pilot will also have a task management system specially designed for road repair tasks and related dispatch teams. With this system, when you decide to "fix a problem" as mentioned in (1), the pilot provides the priorities of these problems so you can easily decide. When the city decides to fix a high priority issue, the system also routes your repair teams to fix small issues around the area that would normally be unknown/unfound. This is a great opportunity for preventive maintenance. It is far cheaper and faster to fix small problems which eventually grow into large potholes and expensive repair conditions.

To sum up;
The pilot will give you data and a software system.
On this system, you get to choose if you want to use your budget up to 9 times the efficiency, or alternatively to decrease complaints and increase road safety.

We'll give you the power to fix your roads, how you use that power is up to you.