If you are bothered by potholes, you should have this app on your phone

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08-Sep-2016

 

Hearing your bones rattle every time your vehicle runs over a pothole and lands with a thud? Well, it’s actually all good as long as you live to tell the story.

Because, consider this: according to data released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 2,700 people were killed and over 6,500 were injured in road accidents across India caused by poor road conditions in 2015.

In an interview with FactorDaily, renowned civic activist and leader, RK Mishra, stressed on the lack of a mechanism to trace and fix bad roads in India.

“The larger problem municipalities have is that there is no method to track potholes, so it takes long periods to fix them. And then, the quality is also compromised. Making bad roads is the new business,” said Mishra.

He has developed an app that gathers real-time data on poor road conditions, including potholes and sunken roads

Sudarshan Gangrade, a former VP at Ola Cabs, could possibly have a solution for this. He has developed an app that gathers real-time data on poor road conditions, including potholes and sunken roads. The app, called RoadMApp, can help the government in spotting potholes and fixing them before things get out of hand.

Gangrade came up with the idea of building an app that would allow users to assess the quality of roads on their smartphones during a two-month break from work. “I was having a conversation with some of my friends about this, and then this idea popped up. I decided to try my hand at creating this solution on the spur of moment,” said Gangrade.

However, with Pothole Fix users have to make a lot of effort to upload data

There are other applications out there to enable citizens to highlight civic issues. BBMP, in collaboration with ichangemycity (a digital solution for citizen participation in governance created by Janaagraha), has launched an app called Pothole Fix for citizens to report bad roads.

However, with Pothole Fix users have to make a lot of effort to upload data (they have to get off their vehicles, take pictures and upload it via the app), while with RoadMApp the user doesn’t have to do anything except download the app on their phones.

Road MApp passively records road condition data without any intervention on the part of the driver/rider.

How does it work

The algorithms in the app switch on when the driver hits the road.

The phone’s sensors, such as accelerometer and gyroscope, detect when the user’s car or bike slows down and a bump is hit, while the GPS determines location. The data is recorded every 5 seconds. The algorithms in the app filter down to distinguish between potholes, speed bumps and stretches of bad road. The information is sent off into a larger data stream of information from RoadMApp users. When enough people hit a big bump in the same spot, the app recognises it as a pothole.

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Images of bad roads on app source: RoadMApp

The condition of the roads is indicated by the use of different colours: from green = smooth to red = bumpy. Blue spots show the locations of speed breakers.

Gangrade expects at least 3,000 users from each city to build a better database on road condition. “As and when the number of users increases, the data would also populate and deliver better outputs,” said Gangrade.

RoadMApp crowdsources the data, which local government can use to alert riders to the location of potholes, assign crews to fix them in the short term, and plan longer-term investments to revamp stretches of road.

Gangrade expects at least 3,000 users from each city to build a better database on road condition.

FactorDaily used the app to check the accuracy. Though it is not 100% accurate, but with more data coming in, the developers are hopeful the indications would get accurate.

Bengaluru-based startup Lightmetrics, which works on visual analytics for telematics, helped Gangrade develop the app. RoadMApp currently has a little over 500 downloads. Gangrade wants to take the app to the government and has no plans of making money from it right now.

Of course, the success of the initiative will depend more number of people using the app so that the data is meaningful. Since all that users have to do is keep the app on their phones, the founder is hopeful enough users will come forward to be part of the movement.



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