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Case study with Lewis County, NY: Proactive road maintenance made easy with RoadAI

8.21.2023//Client Stories, RoadAI

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Lewis County is a small county in upstate New York that manages 250-miles of road network.

Nicole Bubnoski

Sales Manager, RoadAI

Challenge: Data collection is time-consuming with manual methods

A few years back, Lewis County identified a need to streamline their road condition survey methods and create a preventative road maintenance program. To do so, they set out to find an alternative to manual surveys to save time. As a result, Lewis County replaced their manual road survey methods with RoadAI.

Previously, they had a complete list of their roads – but only the lengths and widths, not the road conditions.

They conducted road condition assessments manually by taking notes of every defect with a pen and paper while driving down the roads. The process was not only stressful, but time-consuming. It took numerous weeks to survey all the roads in their network, which meant they could only do it once per year, while the goal was to do it every spring and fall.

In addition, Lewis County was not able to focus on routine preventative maintenance and chip-sealing. Minor cracking could turn into a significant problem within a couple years.

Solution: Quick and efficient road network surveys with computer vision tool

To manage their road network and create a preventative maintenance program, Lewis County used RoadAI to streamline their methods of collecting road conditions.

RoadAI is an app that runs on a  smartphone, which is fitted into a vehicle to collect HD video. After setting up the phone, you simply drive around your road network to collect footage of road condition data and roadside assets. The data then automatically uploads into RoadAI’s servers and pieced back together through a technology called computer vision. It identifies the pavement conditions using the same methodology as the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) or PASER process.

Lewis County can now view a heat map of road conditions or export an Excel/Shapefile/GEOJSON file to generate maintenance plans in the same way one would use any other road condition data.

"I really don't have the time to make notes on every defect that you'd see as you're going down the road, so this product really was kind of revolutionary for me. It's very quick and efficient, and it's been very effective."

– Timothy Hunt, Lewis County Highway Superintendent

Benefits: Cost-saving preventative maintenance and valuable video footage

With RoadAI, it only takes Lewis County a day and a half to survey the entire 250-mile network. This has allowed them to conduct accurate and actionable road condition surveys twice a year.  

In addition, Lewis County can extend the life of their roads with routine preventative maintenance. By surveying their roads more frequently, they can intervene earlier, which allows them to budget more effectively. For example, they can identify defects before the roads fail by performing chip sealing, which costs one-tenth the price of repaving and extends the life of their roads by six years.

"I do think that probably the biggest thing that it's [RoadAI] helped me with is to be able to show legislators, my employees, members of the public - if they choose - a rational plan for maintaining the highways. And that data has been invaluable.”

– Timothy Hunt, Lewis County Highway Superintendent

When it comes to reactive maintenance, RoadAI has been effective at detecting roadside assets. Also, geolocated annotations has made it easy to drop a pin on road issues, such as hazardous trees and vegetation, so maintenance personnel know exactly where to go for repairs. The RoadAI footage has been used to locate standing water and drainage problems. Overall, Lewis County has been able to actively address immediate road issues, reducing potential accidents and increasing road safety. 

RoadAI’s asset inventory can also be used as evidence in legal cases and disputes. For example, when Lewis County was faced with a lawsuit over a road sign, they were able to pull visual evidence of the sign at a specific date as evidence in their favor. Lewis County also started to document road damage caused by individuals, providing visual proof of the damage and helping resolve any disputes over liability. Lastly, the inventory has been helpful in tracking windmill contractor activity, ensuring that the contractors are meeting their obligation to pay for any damage to the roads. These benefits demonstrate the utility of RoadAI's software in not only the management of road assets, but also as a database of video footage.

"RoadAI allows me to say, 'I’m not going to spend the money on that road because it doesn't need it, but this road does.' So now we're targeting those dollars more specifically toward the exact need.”

– Timothy Hunt, Lewis County Highway Superintendent

One more significant benefit Lewis County has experienced with RoadAI is that it allows to easily articulate the needs of their road network to legislators to secure funding. They can now show pictures, videos, data, and heat maps of where work is needed to justify their budget and decisions

Nicole Bubnoski

Sales Manager, RoadAI

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