Montgomery wins ‘Smart City’ award for road analysis technology

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:52 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The City of Montgomery is getting more recognition for its use of technology and innovation. US Ignite and Smart Cities Connect named Montgomery a winner in the 2021 Smart 50 Awards.

The driving force behind the award is a cutting-edge new program the city uses to assess roadways and pave priorities.

“It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify issues,” explained Wesley Cox, Montgomery’s Director of Traffic Engineering. The department has partnered with a program called “Roadbotics” to help determine which roads need re-paving first.

“Roadbotics is looking at cracks, it’s looking at potholes and utility patches, so it’s it’s the entire roadway, and all the different types of distresses that robotics is looking at that goes into their rating,” Cox explained how the system works better than the naked eye. “It’s seeing the same things that we’re seeing, but it’s able to determine, okay, how many cracks? It is too much? Or how many potholes are too much? You know, how many potholes do we have to have until this road gets to the point where it really needs paving. And it applies a number to that. So, you know, we can use that number to compare from one street to another. So we know this street is in worse condition than another Street.”

The program uses very little manpower and cuts down the turnaround time between identifying the roads and actually getting them repaired.

“There’s two smartphones, one to collect video data and one for navigation. Roadbotics sets up the routes for your public works person to drive. And you drive the speed limit, and it collects the video data. We upload that data to Roadbotics. And within a month or two, they’re able to process that through their system and give us the writings robotics is looking at cracks,” said Cox.

Cox said they can see the information the robotics provided and quickly filter it down to the worst streets and then plan what streets to pave.

“Obviously, paving the streets in Montgomery is an expensive thing to do, and so you’re limited how much you can pave each year. So this gives us the data that we need to find those worst streets, and correct them and really make the most impact for the people that are driving,” Cox added.

It takes a couple of months for “Roadbotics” to turn around its results. So, the information the city is collecting now will be used in the 2022 paving plan.

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