Maintain Roads, Save Lives
One of the most important public assets that contribute to the progress and development of a nation is road infrastructure. A strong road network serves as the foundation for a society's ability to access jobs, healthcare, education, and social relationships. Having said this, we all know that poor roads are still a major cause for concern all over the world, and the effects are devastating. This article will explore exactly why timely road asset maintenance is crucial and how technology can help.
Factors contributing to poor road conditions
- Heavy and frequent use of roads
- Poor road design and construction
- Inappropriate or insufficient maintenance
Effects of poorly maintained roads
Road conditions can have significant adverse effects on our health and wellbeing – and on our wallets. Potholes on the highway and other normal roads not only lead to bike and car accidents but also causes many medical problems in people like back pain, disk issues, neck pain etc. Studies show that poor road conditions cost many countries billions per year in excess fuel consumption lost productivity, and damage to vehicles. The social and economic factors are harder to quantify, but are arguably even more important. If you are a health professional trying to get to an emergency situation, road conditions can be the difference between life and death.
Why is road maintenance crucial?
Road maintenance is crucial because asphalt wears out, like the tyres on your car. It is completely normal that the surface will become less smooth, crack, and develop potholes over time. When the asphalt becomes porous or crumbly, it is time to resurface the road. This is because the road surface may be too thin, having become too worn after years of use. A poorly maintained road has a higher risk of potholes and cracking, which may lead to the formation of even larger cracks if left unattended. This can prove dangerous to the lives of motorists and pedestrians alike. The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable, a World Bank study report, reveals that nations who do not invest in road safety could lose out on anywhere between 7 and 22% in potential per capita GDP growth over a 24-year period. More than 1.25 million deaths occur annually due to delay, along with diminished productivity and bleaker growth prospects. So, it is imperative that roads must be monitored and necessary maintenance actions be taken before it causes damage to human lives.
The role of technology in road maintenance
The traditional method of road maintenance involves manual tracking of road assets and gathering of data by certified surveyors who drive or walk down streets looking for defects. Road assets include a comprehensive list of items like road surfaces, road signs, road networks, street lighting, barriers, pedestrian pathways, cycle paths, drains, pavement markings, sidewalks, trees, shrubs etc. This can be time-consuming and, at times, inaccurate. It also requires a lot of resources which makes it expensive. Today, innovations in AI and ground-breaking computer vision technology, enable automated detection, analysis, and classification of road assets in a fraction of the time compared to manual inspections. It doesn’t require many resources and hence makes it cost-effective too.
Good roads are a national priority. Today, most countries are grappling with the burning issue of poor road infrastructure. People’s anger and frustration which are directed toward the authorities in charge, are evident from the number of articles appearing in newspapers and social media sites. Governments are faced with the challenge of implementing effective road repair and maintenance plans on an immediate basis but are unable to due to lack of funding and resources.
The fact is that the life and quality of roads will decline. Early accurate detection and analysis of road assets can lead to proper planning and establishment of effective regulations and maintenance systems. The traditional methods of manual inspection and surveys are time-consuming, costly, and not always accurate or up-to-date. The need of the hour is rapid and automated road monitoring methods like computer vision technology that allows the authorities in charge to regularly monitor and survey the roads, plan timely repairs and maintenance activities, improve road safety and thereby save lives.