A City Data Collaborative for the Age of Autonomous Vehicles

The Navya Arma autonomous vehicle drives down a street in Las Vegas.

The Navya Arma autonomous vehicle drives down a street in Las Vegas. John Locher / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

ARGO Labs want to do for California public works agencies, what it did for water utilities—prioritize services and, in this case, road repairs.

California’s recently passed Road Repair and Accountability Act, also known as Senate Bill 1, includes $26 billion for local initiatives that a budding collaborative wants to see spent on data-driven street management.

Streets Data Collaborative is the brainchild of New York City-based data infrastructure startup ARGO Labs, which pioneered the model in 2014 with the California Data Collaborative consisting of 14 water utilities stewarding use of the resource during a five-year drought. Water managers were organized around shared data resources given their fragmented nature.

StDC shifts that paradigm to “equitable and efficient urban mobility” at a time when cities are bracing for autonomous vehicles to take to the streets.

By moving public data more effectively, the thinking is transportation infrastructure repairs can be prioritized and streamlined.

ARGO Labs made its test case developing a Street Quality Identification Device that attaches to vehicles and measures and photographs street quality. Potholes can be counted using an open source hardware platform based on images shot every second, while accelerometers gauged bumpiness and pavement conditioning.

The process is far more scientific than the 1970s “windshield survey” that many cities still perform by eyeballing street conditions and assigning them a score, Varun Adibhatla, one of ARGO’s founders, told Route Fifty by phone. That scoring determines how billions of dollars in local infrastructure funds is allocated.

As CaDC is for water managers, so StDC can be for public works managers with SQUID as a service coupled with identification and refinement of cities’ outlying GIS data. Cities can also invest in cheap sensors for providing real-time, location-based transit data.

StDC also promises to prep cities for the “autonomous future.”

“One very concrete example: Let’s say we do achieve the vision of autonomous vehicles. What does a public autonomous vehicle look like?” Adibhatla asked. “Shouldn't it be able to visit all streets in a city?” Today's technology for routing vehicles through city streets is closed-sourced and expensive to undertake. An open-source approach can benefit not only autonomous vehicles but also existing municipal vehicle fleets.

Another challenge StDC is working on is incomplete street maintenance data. 3-1-1 “complaint” data helps to identify pesky potholes, but providing cities with the means to conduct frequent street surveys is far more efficient—as opposed to the current “whack-a-mole” process, Adibhatla said.

In the short term, StDC is offering California cities the chance to make better use of the SB 1 money they can apply for. The collaborative met with the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, which oversees 28,000 lane miles using three laser trucks costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to profile streets.

Identifying which streets are degrading the fastest aids proactive maintenance, and smaller cities experience street maintenance issues more acutely. Patch and sealing streets when the need arises is far cheaper and less intensive than reconstructing them once they’re too far gone.

“There’s an interesting analogy here about street maintenance often being the most visible indicator of local government performance,” Adibhatla said.

He also remains skeptical of how quickly AVs will ultimately be adopted given the “fairly contentious” relationship between Pittsburgh and Uber. And in 2016, a Volvo AV prototype struggled to identify lane markings on L.A.’s street pavement, leading the American CEO to gripe at Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“It’s the responsibility of the city now to maintain these streets so autonomous vehicles can operate,” Adibhatla said. “And we haven’t really seen that before.”

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify some language related to "windshield surveys" and correct a quotation about autonomous car routing. 

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Orlando Protects Citizens During Heavy Rain Events by Optimizing Water Data Intelligence
Orlando, FL, USA
Small city of Baldwin, GA with <5K residents reduces info calls to City Hall by 50%
Baldwin, GA, USA
Integrated city systems, unified data, & automation drive 316% increase in field efficiency
Seattle, WA, USA

NEXT STORY: ‘Big Ideas for Cities’ to Spotlight Inclusive Practices

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.