April 15, 2024

The new telephone application informs the city council of potholes while driving

A revolutionary new crowdsourcing app allows drivers to automatically report to the council or responsible authority the status of each road they travel on, using their own windscreen-mounted smartphone.

The app is called Stan and drivers can download and use it for free, without registering or collecting or storing personal data. Drivers can become ‘citizen surveyors’ for their council by using their smartphone camera to record the state of the roads during any car journey. Each council will have a portal and login, where data from reports made through the application will be continuously shared.

Individual ‘videos’ and images recorded through the app will be projected using an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘neural network’ that can accurately recognize and pinpoint a multitude of issues. These range from small cracks and crumbling surfaces to roadside failures, potholes of all sizes, areas of puddles of water, faded road markings and even dirty or obstructed road signs. In total, says developer Metricell, the AI ​​has been trained to recognize and record 45 different surface or infrastructure conditions where repair or maintenance is required. In addition, drivers will be able to zoom in on their local area on a nationwide “road health” map on stantheapp.com, giving them constantly updated new information about the condition of their local roads, as well as being able to compare the status of your local roads. the health of its roads to those maintained by neighboring municipalities.

The company behind the new app believes its innovation has the potential to transform the way local authorities manage road maintenance. Metricell sales director Mike Mockford told us that some councils currently conduct surveys using expensive rented scanning machines that they may have access to for only one week a year, while others rely heavily on public reporting, a often using an extensive form on the council’s website.

“It’s a long process and there’s a lot of duplication,” Mockford says. “We are using artificial intelligence to clean our crowd-sourced data and, with our technology, we believe drivers could inspect an entire county every two weeks, so councils can put together a much better maintenance plan.

“The big question is whether we can get enough Stans,” he says. “Are there enough people who are frustrated enough with the state of the roads to want to do something about it? We think so, but we’ll see how it goes!

It remains to be seen whether councils will be happy to accept Stan’s implications, and Mockford acknowledges that traditional working practices can be difficult to overcome. He says initial feedback suggests some councils may not want Stan to tell them how many potholes they have, because once they know individual faults in the roads, they become responsible for fixing them.

“Our job is to convince them that yes, there will be a lot within the first six months, but this way they will be able to evaluate their entire network, and not just five percent of it. We can also help with data cleanup and prioritizing maintenance on main roads instead of big potholes where no one drives.”

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Cllr Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils already invite road users to report road defects and any new way that supports this and makes it easier is helpful.

“While this information will assist councils in planning road repairs, limited resources will mean councils will need to continue to prioritize based on local circumstances and focus on preventative measures where they can.

“In the longer term, the Government should give council Highway Departments five annual funding allocations to provide more certainty, putting councils on par with National Highways so they can develop resurfacing programs and other road improvements. roads, addressing the scourge of potholes.”

How does Stan work? We review it…

The app is quick and free to download, and is ready to go immediately without needing to log in or create an account. Two options are offered on the home screen of the app; Photo mode lets you report individual potholes using a single image, while driving mode records the road ahead as you go.

If you choose drive mode, you are initially shown a video-style image of the forward view, so you can adjust the camera angle. However, once you’re driving, the screen turns black with a red “recording” dot to save phone battery and reduce chances of distraction. Drive mode will work with a passenger holding the phone, but serious users will need to invest in a suction cup windshield mount to get the most out of Stan.

Whether you use photo or drive mode, simply tapping the on-screen end button generates a report that you can optionally name or add notes to before sending.

There’s a slightly confusing “Reports Sent” bar that looks like an “upload in progress” indicator, but it’s not, so we weren’t immediately sure if the uploads had completed, but they were in fact processed quickly. You can see a Google-style map of the tours you’ve submitted through the app, but unfortunately you don’t have access to detailed data of your AI-vetted trips in the app or through the website.

If you’re worried about the data cost implications of recording and sending a three-hour trip report, you’ll be pleased to know that Stan won’t connect over the mobile network – wait until you have a Wi-Fi connection first. going up. The data requirement is also reduced, as Stan takes individual photos every half second in driving mode, rather than recording with full video.

As early adopters, I was able to test Stan on roads we knew well, and it was gratifying to visit the website an hour later to see that our rides had resulted in horrible local asphalt showing up in red on the road condition map, although very little showed green, indicating a road in good condition.

As the map fills with reports from other Stans, you’ll have to trust that your efforts are making a difference. But we will definitely be using Stan again and hopefully so will thousands of others, highlighting very publicly how neglected our national road network has become.

Do you think Stan will make a difference to the state of the UK’s roads? Give us your opinion in the comments…

News and reports editor.

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed automotive news and reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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