Road MApp — Smartphone Technology to help measure road quality

Imagine having a map of roads, with the quality of each stretch of road mapped out in clear Red, Orange, Yellow, Green. Imagine helping create this data set using your smartphone. Imagine sharing this with the government to help them know exactly where to fix roads…

What is the impact of bad roads? One of the biggest pain points in travel today is potholes on the road. Every year, conservative estimates say that more than 10000 people die on Indian roads due to bad stretches of roads related accidents alone (link). Moreover, they impact our backs, cause stress, cause delays, affect cars and more.

Why does this happen? The core problem today is that there is limited money available for repair. Which means, for e.g., in a ward that has a few hundred kms of roads, there is no scientific way to prioritize which specific road stretches should be fixed first. As a result, lower impact / sub-optimal stretches of roads are often fixed.

What is our solution? We have developed an app that automatically maps out the bad stretches on the roads using smartphone sensors (A sample mapping is here). Road MApp resides as a background app on your smartphones. It uses the accelerometers to measure the quality of the roads. Using sophisticated algorithms developed by PhDs in signal processing and machine learning, it grades at 7 levels how good or bad is the stretch of road. All the user needs to do is to download the app and launch it once. That’s it!

How will this be used? We want to help the government make the roads better. This data from citizens will be published as a dashboard to the local government. Local municipalities (like BBMP) can use this to know the bad stretches of road (and how bad) in their ward. They can then use this along with Traffic data to prioritize the patches that need work post monsoon.

How can you help? What we need is to create enough awareness to get around 3000 citizens per metro city (<0.005% of the population) to download the app. This should help us map out the complete city (like in the sample above) in about 2–3 weeks. Please spread the word through your facebook wall and twitter handles, as also share this with active citizen groups you may know / be part of. In addition, any active user group that may have people who identify with the cause.

Why are we doing this? I have worked in the Aadhaar project with Mr. Nandan Nilekani. I have become inspired by the idea of using technology, to improve public delivery of services. My belief is that the government is open to using tools to help improve its efficiency.

Is this commercial? This is a purely social cause. The super smart techie team at Lightmetrics has been kind enough to help build this product, for free. We intend to share the road quality data generated through the citizens to the government for free. There is NO commercial interests here.

Vision The smartphone is a powerful tool that is widespread today. Citizens, who use public services, talk about improving the service delivery, but mostly are unable to contribute to this. This app can be the crowd-sourced platform for various cutting edge technologies that help generate a hyperlocal view of the city that the government can use to know what are the issues. For e.g., points that have high probability of accidents, Areas where streetlights do not work and so on. Our view is that the app should leverage technology with minimal involvement of the citizens, so as to maximize the participation.

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App download: