In an effort to help municipalities find and repair potholes sooner, a group in North Texas called Thing for Things has developed a GPS device that can be attached to vehicles to gather data from the roadway, according to WFAA.
The device measures vibrations associated with a vehicle hitting a pothole to determine their severity and then captures their location based on the GPS coordinates calculated for the vehicle.
The information could then be sent to municipalities to help them prioritize roadway maintenance. The organization’s CEO Ashok Sami said the data gathered could also be tied to a companion app for users to chart the smoothest route to a destination.
Technology is a critical part of improving America’s deteriorating infrastructure, but uptake will be driven by funding — a topic on which the Trump administration has offered few details and no real timeline. Still, investors are eyeing the category for its promise of large-scale spending in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in April approved $768.2 million in emergency funding through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program for road and bridge repair in 40 states claiming damage from storms and natural disasters, including Colorado and California.
U.S. roads and bridges continue to be in a state of disrepair. In its annual infrastructure report card, which tracks conditions across 16 categories, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country a D+ overall.
The roads category scored slightly lower (D), with the ASCE noting that one in five miles of paved highways are in poor condition, particularly in urban areas. Heavy congestion is another concern that leads to more wear-and-tear and makes routine repairs — like filling potholes — difficult to execute. Bad roads cost drivers $112 billion more in repairs and operating costs in 2014.
In recent years, some states and municipalities have taken to resurfacing asphalt highways with gravel rather than undertaking a costly rebuilding or major maintenance project, as construction costs climb and infrastructure funding remains largely uncertain.
The U.S. currently has a $1.44 trillion infrastructure funding shortfall that, if alleviated, could yield 2.5 million more jobs and $4 trillion in gross domestic product in the next decade, according to a separate ASCE report.