Mapping Technology Speeds Up City Road Repairs

Typically, many cities only receive data on their roads once a year but Lv15’s road scores are updated continuously

Lvl5, which specialises in creating crowdsourced HD maps, has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Rubicon, a technology company rooted in the waste and recycling industry.

Under the terms, Lvl5’s mapping technology will be incorporated into Rubicon’s SmartCity platform, which aims to help city managers and planners reduce operating expenses, divert waste from landfills, implement or improve recycling programmes and work towards long-term sustainability goals. 

Real-time data on street conditions

Through Rubicon’s customised web-portal, city leaders can access neighbourhood-specific analytics, data-driven tools, route optimisation for haulers, and now real-time data on street conditions ranging from alligator cracks to potholes to unsafe driving conditions.

“The garbage truck is probably the one vehicle in all the world that visits every house and travels down every street each week. At Rubicon, we have a network of 5,000 haulers across the globe, many of which leverage our in-truck technology to help provide better recycling and waste solutions for cities of all sizes,” said Phil Rodoni, chief technology officer, Rubicon.

“With this agreement with Lvl5, Rubicon’s city customers will be able to leverage key road data to help make decisions on road repairs and road conditions, using technology to maximise the use of scarce resources.”

In a separate announcement, Lvl5, which is in talks with Utah’s Department of Transportation, has announced Road Quality, a product that uses computer vision to help cities “affordably monitor” their roads in order and to maintain them more efficiently with taxpayer money.

According to Lvl5, most US cities score their roads in order to monitor how deteriorated they are – whether they have cracks, potholes, missing signs – and allocate maintenance accordingly. Cities contract out to firms to map the roads using LiDAR, which usually costs hundreds of dollars per mile, totaling up to millions of dollars per year for some cities.

Not only is it expensive, but it is also slow – the contracting firm must drive each road with LiDAR. As a result, many cities, like Los Angeles, only receive this data once per year, meaning the city depends on months-old data to fix roads today.

Payver, Lvl5’s dashcam app, pays users up to $0.05 per mile to record their driving using their cell phone. The company is already working with many Uber and Lyft drivers across the US who run the dashcam app throughout the day. As cars are driving around, they are “vacuuming” up data about the roads.

“We want to help cities find their truly desperate roads, so they can make more informed decisions and allocate their resources efficiently”

The company then uses its computer vision algorithm to translate that crowdsourced footage into maps that rate road quality and show cities where problems exist.

Lvl5’s road quality scores are continuously updated through their crowdsourcing model so that cities can quickly identify problems and fix them before they become larger, more expensive issues. For example, a crack that is fixed immediately won’t become a pothole, saving money for both the city and drivers.

Further, Lvl5 claims because its system is crowdsourced and automated, the company can provide the service for under $70 per mile compared to the current rates of several hundred dollars per mile.

“We’ve developed a technology that can instantly score a road based on objective measures,” said Andrew Kouri, co-founder and CEO of Lvl5. “We want to help cities find their truly desperate roads, so they can make more informed decisions and allocate their resources efficiently.”

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