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For anyone who has been frustrated by a pothole, a damaged street light or a faded road marking, some good news is in sight.
There's a new location tech trend that combines maps with data to provide real-time insight into the state of the roads, making them safer, reducing the cost of their upkeep and making it easier for authorities to identify weak spots.
Already, the technology is being used in several regions of France to plan and improve infrastructure management, including the renewal of road markings.
French company Citymagine has created a platform that allows highway agencies and city departments to analyze where maintenance needs to be scheduled, allowing them to better plan their budgets and stay on top of preventative maintenance.
The platform, called CityROAD, pulls aggregated map data from HERE with “picture" data from 360-degree cameras, planes and satellites to help authorities identify the state of roadside infrastructure. It also uses HERE Road Roughness to determine the quality of the road surface.
CityROAD is intuitive to use and can give highways authorities up to 25% budget savings versus traditional road management processes. Image credit: Groupe Hélios
Matthieu Levivier, Chief Operating Officer of Citymagine, said: “Take road marking as an example. If you renew them more often, it costs less because you put less paint on the road. It's also more ecological, and safer for road users. There are a lot of benefits for the client, for the road user and the company carrying out the works. You can make better decisions and be more efficient."
Some of these efficiencies include up to 25% budget savings, as infrastructure management company Groupe Hélios discovered. It used CityROAD to inspect 6,132 km of roads in France, using the platform to geolocate the road “equipment" and its condition. With the click of a button, road managers can see a 360-degree image of the road to define the scale of the repair and its cost.
“There is a budget optimization and [city authorities] are able to increase the level of performance of the equipment for the same budget," added Matthieu. “There's also an increase in safety. Many new cars have systems that can help maintain the car in the road lane. If the road markings are good, it helps to prevent accidents."
Road managers can use a desktop platform to assess the state of roads, allowing them to prioritize resources. Image credit: Groupe Hélios
Olivier Jacquin-Ravot, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Groupe Hélios, is one of Citymagine's customers and works with local authorities to repair road infrastructure. He said: “Before, we would need to visit the site to understand what we have to do. It wasn't very efficient. Now with CityROAD, we are able to define and classify the road markings and pedestrian crossings, for example, and say to the customer, '50% of them don't conform.' So they can prioritize these and we can go back and apply new paint."
He explains that for road markings or pedestrian crossings Groupe Hélios would, in the past, have had to measure the length of the lines and assess the quality of the markings physically, a very time-consuming task.
From physical surveys to remote management, France is pioneering a new way to stay on top of road maintenance. Image credit: Groupe Hélios
“Ultimately, we are focused on safety for road users, and to decrease the number of accidents. With CityROAD we can tell our customers where the black spots are and where they need to improve the pavement markings to reduce the number of injuries or accidents. The platform is very user-orientated and simple to use."
But it's the future benefits of this technology that particularly excites Olivier. With CityROAD currently in use by 50 cities in France, and the goal to double that in a year, it will help France leapfrog other countries in the adoption of autonomous cars, which require legible, clearly-defined road markings to work.
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