City wins award for AI project to detect potholes

The City of Markham has been recognized as one of the most “innovative and forward-thinking” municipalities in North America thanks to a pilot project that sniffs out and automatically reports potholes using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

It earned the award from the IDC Government Insights’ fourth annual Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA) in the Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, Ride-hailing & Ride-sharing category.

Markham launched the pilot project last year in collaboration with Visual Defence, a Richmond Hill-based technology company, to mount a Rover app-enabled smartphone to a patrol vehicle’s windshield. The AI finds potholes automatically using a smartphone’s camera and machine learning, and then uploads the information to the cloud. City staff regularly review the recorded incidents through a browser and send crews to conduct repairs.

Pothole reporting has improved 200 to 400 per cent as a result of the pilot project, the City reports. That allows City staff to address potholes before they become a hazard to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The pilot project has saved money in repairs and has been expanded to five City-owned vehicles.

“The City of Markham is honoured to be recognized with a SCNAA for our innovative data-focused approach to ensuring our road infrastructure is monitored and maintained,” says Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We have worked alongside Visual Defense to implement their ROVER AI app to quickly and thoroughly identify deficiencies and execute timely improvements.

“The City of Markham is committed to driving innovative change and leveraging technology to improve operations and services.”

“The winners of our fourth annual SCNAA represent the most innovative and forward-thinking municipalities across North America, dedicated to making cities more livable and uncovering new ways to offer services and economic opportunities for all its citizens,” said Ruthbea Yesner, Vice President, IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities and Communities Strategies. “We are proud to shine a spotlight on these successful smart city initiatives and encourage the next generation of changemakers for the greater good of our communities.”

IDC Government Insights’ SCNAA recognizes the progress of North American municipalities in executing Smart Cities projects and provides a forum for sharing best practices. Winners, including New York City, Arizona State University, Las Vegas and Philadelphia, will be honored at Smart Cities Connect in October.

Photo of a Rover-enabled smartphone detecting potholes is from the Visual Defence website. 

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