Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has a reputation of poor road infrastructure. Most roads are riddled with deep potholes that contribute to car breakdowns, accidents, and traffic jams. The major challenge faced by the Kampala city authorities is early identification of potholes and road damages. In response to this challenge, this project is developing a new technology that uses sensors (accelerometer and GPS) embedded in a mobile phone to automatically detect potholes and to provide a visual mapping of potholes. This acts as a warning to motorists and also informs city authorities of the roads that need urgent attention.
Project Vision and Strategy
The project explores the use mobile participatory sensing in achieving better road infrastructure as well as in engaging and empowering all road users to actively participate in monitoring road infrastructure maintenance. A novel pothole detection algorithm is being developed to accurately use mobile phone sensors to differentiate potholes from uneven road surfaces and bumps. Whenever potholes are repaired, they are removed from the visual mapping to avoid false warnings. The project’s target is to reach 500 active users of the smartphone apps or other mobile tools (e.g., SMS) by 2017. The collected data sets will be made available as open access data for researchers, government, and planners.
The research team has developed a PotholeSpot mobile app (http://potholespot.co.ug/index.php/downloads), a visualization of over 1,000 road anomalies in Kampala in selected areas (http://potholespot.co.ug/maps/), and a draft manuscript titled “Automatic Detection of Potholes: Assessing the Potential of Mobile Sensor Technology in Road Infrastructure Monitoring in Kampala.”
As a result of this research, there is a reduced cost of pothole identification, more timely identification of road damages, and an increased number of fresh road damages reported (over 1,000 road damages reported so far.) The research has also led to an increased awareness about road infrastructure monitoring and more participation by citizens in the process.
- Associate Professor Engineer Bainomugisha, Computer Science, Makerere University