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CityROVER Case Study

Durham Region, ON

Drive. Detect. Determine.

Overview

After identifying the areas of improvement in their road maintenance system, Durham Region started a pilot program with Visual Defence.

The device was installed onto a patrol vehicle and staff members were trained on both device and web interface usage.

Initially, Durham employed a single device during the pilot, and has since expanded to using one device per maintenance depot daily after noticing a number of positive improvements to their operations.

Currently, Durham Region is using the CityROVER system on end-to-end basis, from identifying the issue, to opening service request, creating a work order and closing the issue.

Problems

Durham Region primarily used a manual reporting method using pencil and paper for their road maintenance operations. It consisted of staff members inspecting the roads in patrol vehicles and recording any potential road hazard they come across before submitting a report to later be organized and distributed as work orders to repair crews. While this system is standard, it was prone to inefficiencies, such as: longer repair times, missed incidents, and broad details being provided in the reports.

Challenges

Durham Region consists of eight local area municipalities (Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Oshawa, Brock, Scogog, Whitby and Uxbridge) as well as the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation jurisdictions. In total, the region is home to over 700,000 residents and is responsible for a road network of approximately 2400 lane kilometers (1500 lane miles). Due to factors including weather fluctuations and high traffic volume, the region’s roads often experience formation of deficiencies and potential hazards, including potholes.

The road maintenance system that was employed was a procedure consisting of inspectors conducting patrols and making note of every deficiency they come across. These reports and logs are then submitted to their supervisors, who would review and prepare work orders to dispatch to repair crews so that said deficiencies can be properly tended to. While considered the standard, Durham Region identified several areas that could be improved upon to increase community service levels, including: repair times, staff safety, and potential missed deficiencies.

Before implementing CityROVER devices, the Region employed a procedure that was open to human error, including occasionally missed deficiencies.

The pothole reports consisted of general information (i.e. located at intersection A and B), meaning repair crews needed to search for and locate the deficiencies themselves, contributing to longer repair times.

In order to make reports, operators were required to stop their vehicles and get out to make note of their observations, which is less safe than capturing data on the go.

Solution

In January 2021, Durham Region initiated a collaboration project with Visual Defence for CityROVER AI, making the region the first regional tier municipality to implement AI for pothole detection in Canada.

CityROVER is a smartphone application that takes advantage of artificial intelligence technology to identify and detect road deficiencies and hazards. Using CityROVER is simple and requires no additional input from the operator. The smartphone device is mounted onto a patrol vehicle’s windshield using the provided mounting kit. Once the vehicle is in motion, the AI starts to identify deficiencies on the road and simultaneously generates incident data to upload to the cloud. This data can then be easily accessed by staff members, allowing them to accurately quantify the number of potholes in given areas and therefore prepare work orders and plans based on severity and/or density to distribute among repair crews to tend to in a timely manner.

To use CityROVER, the user simply attaches the provided smartphone to the patrol vehicle’s windshield using the included mounting kit before driving.

While the vehicle is in motion, the AI begins to identify deficiencies and uploads the incidents to the cloud. This provides the city staff with almost immediate access to the data.

After identifying the areas of improvement in their road maintenance system, Durham Region started a pilot program with Visual Defence

The device was installed onto a patrol vehicle and staff members were trained on both device and web interface usage

Initially, Durham employed a single device during the pilot, and has since expanded to using one device per maintenance depot daily after noticing a number of positive improvements to their operations.

Currently Durham Region is using the CityROVER system on end-to-end basis, from identifying the issue, to opening service request, creating a work order and closing the issue.

John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO, Durham Region

This is just another way the region is using technology to improve the lives of our residents. Not only their day-to-day travels, but getting them home safely.

Corey Hill, Road Supervisor, Durham Region

 “We’re able to categorize them [potholes] on level of severity and determine where we need to go right away.”

Eric Lamain, Maintenance Operations & Fleet Services Manager, Durham Region

”We use CityROVER as an automatic pothole detection system. It continiously scans the roadway for deficiencies and potholes, takes pictures of the potholes and logs them in the cloud, so our crews can then prioritize work and fix potholes faster within the Region.”

Result

After using CityROVER for over 1.5 years, Durham reports improved productivity, with approximately 6250 potholes identified in the region with the help of the CityROVER devices. In addition, the pothole repair process overall has become much more efficient due to the automatic and consistent incident detections and work management. The digitization of data provided the means to accurately determine the number of potholes in different areas, allowing staff to quickly identify high priority areas. The improved road conditions and efficiencies resulted in: increased cost savings, improved levels of public service, and improved compliance with Ontario’s Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS).

The implementation of CityROVER has also resulted in a decrease in risk exposure to both staff and the community. Because the processes of pothole detection and reporting are done automatically without additional action from the operator, road inspections are a safer process for the driver, as they are able to focus solely on navigating through the region’s road network. Additionally, the consistent road conditions resulted in reduced exposure to potential claims.

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