7 Feb



Addressing the problem of America’s aging roadways, while a necessary task, is oftentimes disruptive to traffic, time-consuming, and expensive.  StreetScan presents an alternative, innovative approach that combines GIS and multiple sensing technologies to create a comprehensive pavement inspection, monitoring, and management service.  The result is an unintrusive, efficient, and affordable system that informs decision-makers and officials so that they can restore and improve one of our country’s most important, yet neglected infrastructures.

Traditionally, a city’s pavement inspections are conducted by field engineers which examine selected sections of the road. The result is a highly subjective process that requires extrapolating the condition of the entire city’s road infrastructure from a small snapshot.  StreetScan’s pavement inspection technologies revolutionizes this process by combining various acquisition technologies in their trademark vehicle, ScanVan, resulting in an objective  summary output that considers multiple variables, known as equivalent Pavement Condition Index (ePCI).  These sensing technologies include microphones which record tire-induced vibrations that indicate surface texture and roughness, ground-penetrating radar for detecting conditions below the immediate surface, and video cameras to check the results from other sensors.  The result is an objective, mobile data collection system that flows with the traffic with minimal disruption for motorists.

The ScanVan and its sensing technologies.  Image taken from the StreetScan site.

The ScanVan and its sensing technologies. Image taken from the StreetScan site.

In addition to revolutionizing the pavement inspection process, StreetScan also utilizes GIS technology to facilitate the monitoring and management of collected pavement data.  An example of this can be seen in PAVEMON (PAVEment collection MONitoring System), which is a web-based, GIS environment that allows officials and planners to manage, visualize, and analyze the collected data.  “The simplicity of the system is what makes it unique,” states Jon-Erik Dillon, the Chief Growth Officer of StreetScan, highlighting the variety of spatial analysis functions which PAVEMON places at the user’s fingertips.   

An innovative aspect of PAVEMON can be seen in the specialized functions available in PAVEMAN (PAVEment MANagement Toolbox), which allow for decision-makers and city officials to evaluate and identify high priority areas within the city infrastructure.  One particularly interesting feature is how PAVEMAN is able to consider the effect of extreme climate events on road conditions.  Data on the occurrence of extreme climate events is used in a deterioration model, allowing for the user to obtain projected pavement conditions while considering different funding levels.  These customizable settings thus allow for the officials to make strategic funding decisions based on pavement condition projections which consider multiple factors.  

Sample visualization of data in PAVEMON.  Image taken from the StreetScan site.

Sample visualization of data in PAVEMON. Image taken from the StreetScan site.

StreetScan originally began as a research development initiative known as the Voters Project at Northeastern University, but transitioned into a private enterprise in response to demand for its efficient and thorough services.  “Towards the end of the university project, we were working with some municipalities, and clearly there was a need in the marketplace for this type of service,” noted Jon-Erik.  An example of StreetScan’s success can be seen in the City of Newton, where the company’s work has helped the city draft a 10-year plan for restoring the city’s roadways, many of which had pavement condition indexes far below the industry standard.  Currently, StreetScan is working on expanding beyond pavement management, adding additional asset classes that can be collected and analyzed through their services.  By combining multiple sensing technologies and GIS, StreetScan has redefined the process of pavement inspection, management and monitoring, enabling city officials to make better informed decisions on restoring our nation’s aging roadways.

For more information, check out StreetScan’s website here.

Written by Glenn Liu

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