Smoother roads last longer.
Driving on smoother roads requires less fuel.
It is not easy to access government data on road conditions.
This has led to a new smartphone app: Carbin”, a crowd-sourced tool that is collecting information about the condition of the world’s highways and roads.
(BTW – In 2017, America’s roads received a D rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers.)
According to the website, Fix-My-Road “Fix-my-road is an ambitious project led by MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHUB), and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD) in collaboration with Birzeit University (BZU) and the American University of Beirut (AUB). A team of students and professors from MIT, Harvard, UMassD, BZU and AUB is working on the mission of creating a transparent global system for collecting and sharing road quality data to help public and private entities identify where and when to make road repairs that matter the most for our society. We want this to be a universal platform that will empower our communities with knowledge and allow us to contribute to and take charge of our built environment, while reaching our climate change goals as outlined in The Paris Climate Agreement and supported by the WE ARE STILL IN Coalition.
“Quality of roads affect (1) Safety, (2) Traffic, (3) Comfort of driving, (4) Fuel consumption and (5) Quality of air. Therefore, maintaining roadway networks in their top condition is in the best interest of our society. However, current monitoring approaches are expensive, weather-dependent and lack frequency and network-scale measurements needed to prioritize repairs in a way that would offer the highest return on tax payers’ money AND identify issues before they actually occur. Furthermore, they don’t account for the long-term environmental impact associated with road use – The impact the roads have on fuel consumption and carbon emissions.is an ambitious project led by MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHUB), and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMassD) in collaboration with Birzeit University (BZU) and the American University of Beirut (AUB).”
The New York Times in an article entitled, “Mapping Potholes by Phone (the West Bank’s Roads Were Smoother)” explained how and why the app was developed.
One reason is that it is difficult to get information from governments re road quality: “Engineers rate road quality using a World Bank metric, the International Roughness Index, which ideally is measured by special vans equipped with lasers to scan the road. They can cost up to $700,000.”
The Carbin app captures road conditions from a car’s phone holder or even when it is just laid on the floor of the vehicle.
Shahd Nara, now a Harvard senior studying computer science, wrote the code for the iPhone app and the Android app was developed by Bader Anini, who is in his final year of computer systems engineering at Birzeit.
“Ms. Nara is also the developer and designer of Carbin’s website, FixMyRoad.us, where data from hundreds of Carbin beta testers has already been collected and mapped. As of this writing, about 1,000 people have downloaded the app. About 300 regular users have uploaded data from over 3,000 trips, mapping the quality of over 175,000 miles of roads in 11 countries.”
“Data gathered by Carbin users and uploaded to FixMyRoad.us already offers a new argument for improved road-maintenance budgets: reducing carbon emissions.
“The student team is now working on a version of Carbin that would suggest the greenest driving routes.” The goal is to integrate the app into Waze, Apple Maps or other navigation software to help drives find the “greenest” routes.
The article makes the point that: “Some navigation apps already offer an “eco” option based on distance and average fuel consumption. Using Carbin, apps could factor in additional variables including road conditions, topography, predicted idling time and even individual users’ vehicles and driving styles…. Reducing carbon pollution is good for everyone over the long haul. But the students are thinking hard about large fleet customers like UPS and FedEx, as well as Uber and Lyft. Improved eco-routing also promises those users an immediate fuel savings and lower maintenance costs over time.”
The students and professors are currently working on scaling Carbin into a business.
More proof that it is good business to “PaveAhead” with concrete paving.