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Pilot A Smart Pavement Project

The investment afforded by COTC could allow Pittsburgh to test a few slabs of "smart pavement", injecting connectivity into our roads.

Photo of Mitch Turck
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The Kansas City-based startup Integrated Roadways (http://integratedroadways.com) is building modular slabs of "smart pavement": pre-cast concrete road sections that contain pressure & position sensors (think of it as an iPhone screen for tires), along with fiber optics and routers to transmit data. A significant length of highway would be cost-prohibitive for COTC: the only reference point I have is a $2.75MM/5-year contract this startup has with Colorado DOT to build and manage a half-mile of road. But I believe the $100k project would cover a couple installs of single slabs (and related equipment), assuming piecemeal sales are something this startup is willing to do. Let's assume it is feasible. What this really does is give the city and private partners a platform for developing solutions. Where I see the install(s) having value is either in an area of known congestion/complexity like the infamous on-ramp to the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, or an area of known danger in poor conditions, like pretty much any downhill Pittsburgh intersection. In both cases, having a digital pulse on vehicle movement would assist first responders and police with traffic management. Much of the benefit beyond that is speculative, but again, what would make this viable is the potential it provides as a platform. If PGH is one of the early cities to adopt such a platform (even this small beta version), it should draw investment and innovation from early adopters in and outside the region.

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Photo of Donell Badgett

The commute back and forth to work would be smoother.

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