Data From Your Mobile Could Create Better Roads
by Becky Harrison |
posted 05 November 2020
Motorists with smartphones could help highway chiefs maintain road quality by sending ‘crowdsourced’ data from their mobiles that would allow engineers to assess when carriageway repairs are needed, according to a new study.
Road roughness is an important measure of condition and ride quality, but many agencies around the world with large road networks lack the resources to regularly check the state of their highways and make informed maintenance decisions.
Using high resolution three-axis accelerometers and GPS tracking already built into smartphones – together with a low-cost app – to record how a vehicle moves vertically in relation to the carriageway can provide a useful measure of road roughness for civil engineers.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have studied the feasibility of using smartphones in this way, publishing their findings in Journal of Infrastructure Systems.
On most road networks, road roughness is usually used as the measure of functional condition because it can be related readily to road use costs and measurement can be automated.
Co-author Dr. Michael Burrow, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, commented: “The most accurate automated methods of assessing road roughness use vehicles fitted with lasers, but even assessing the roughness of a reasonably sized network can be costly.
An attractive solution is to use acceleration sensors built into most smartphones - because smartphone ownership and use are widespread, we can foresee an approach where the condition of road networks is assessed using crowdsourced data from these mobile devices.”
Maintaining roads at an appropriate standard encourages economic development and minimises road use costs such as travel time, fuel efficiency, vehicle repairs and accidents. It also provides social benefit and reduces the environmental impact of transport.