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Decentralized & Autonomous Street Maintenance

Self-repairing streets leveraging blockchain and smart contracts.

Photo of Varun Adibhatla
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Yes, there's a lot of hype around blockchain. The technology and its underlying application is not very legible to the public. But I believe that the mechanisms of blockchain and smart contracts could unlock a very special opportunity for municipal operations, specifically street maintenance. 

The role of DOMI would fundamentally change from an operational role to more of a regulator by ensuring transperancy and high quality street maintenance.

Here is a 10-step description of this process at work. A more detailed description of this proposal is available on our blog.

  1. Every street segment or standard city block is assigned a digital wallet that contains some preset amount.
  2. Digital street condition surveys are performed in real-time across every single city block. Our SQUID project has successfully demonstrated how this can be done at low-cost using open-source technology. These surveys can be performed either by Pittsburgh DOMI or citizens.
  3. The real-time survey data can be stored on a city{block}chain to keep track of current street conditions over time.
  4. As different street segments wear and tear differently over time, each street segment has a built-in smart contract such that once it falls below some “smoothness or quality threshold”, the street issues a “request for repair” (RFR) .
    "if my condition < smoothness threshold then issue (RFR)"
  5. Pavement repair companies can submit bids on these algorithmically generated RFR’s.
  6. The company that wins a bid to repair must complete the street repair within some set of generally acceptably parameters (time, cost etc). During this time, any complaints registered against this repair company can be attached to its profile and affects future bids. This ensures a high quality of work.
  7. The affected street segment is closed for the duration of repair.
  8. Once repair is complete, the road is open and re-surveyed by vehicles that pass over it.
  9. The first “n” surveys after repair determine if the repair-work is accpeted or not. If accepted, the street segment credits the pavement repair company with agreed upon $$$ or deductions in case of poor work.
  10. Citywide street maintenance can be distributed evenly. Public funds are therefore allocated more equitably and efficiently based on a literal Ground Truth consensus mechanism.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Public works agencies such as DOMI.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users
  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Applied Research in Government Operations (ARGO) is a startup nonprofit that builds, operates, and maintains pioneering data infrastructure to transform how water reliability, street quality, and other basic public services are delivered.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

1. Inventory Phase - Where we would need to obtain authoritative GIS data for Pittsburgh's streets and assign a digital wallet for each street segment. 2. Survey Phase - Select a few vehicles as designated survey vehicles to digitally survey street segments. Ensure data from these surveys is stored on a public blockchain such as Ethereum 3. Smart Contract Phase - Create a simple smart contract based on the survey data collected in Phase 2 and issue a sample Request for Repair. (RFR) 4. Bid Phase - Build a lightweight bidding website where RFRs are listed and can be bid on by registered pavement companies 5. Repair Phase - A repair company can be randomly selected and asked to repair the street that issed the RFR. 6. Validation & Payment Phase - Once repair is complete, survey vehicles from #2 re-survey the street. If street quality is significantly higher, transfer money to repair company. If the pilot is successful, ARGO can be paid to implement a citywide version.

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

The measurement of success is baked into the design of this system. Every time a street is repaired based on an algorithmically generated request for repair, that is a successful outcome of implementing a decentralized system that is transparent and operates on Ground Truth data. We also believe that there would also be significant cost savings for the City and would create a sustainable local industry of pavement repair professionals.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Aly Stone

Hi Varun, glad to see you move your idea from the explore phase to the propose phase. Thanks for the detailed proposal!
-Aly, community facilitator