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West Lothian Council uses AI app for road repairs

12/04/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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West Lothian Council has used a new artificial intelligence app in a survey of its roads network.

Pothole in road

The authority has used the exercise as a trial of the technology, developed with Finnish company Vaisala, and said it is now considering its future use.

The app can be used to collect video footage of a pothole, cracks or other damage through a mobile phone, at which point the AI function identifies the nature of the problem.

It can spot more than 30 different road defects, along with different types of road signs, and blacks out people and details of vehicles to protect privacy.

This contrasts with the traditional approach of two officials taking notes from a slow moving vehicle on the roads.

More data

A council spokesperson told UKAuthority: “With the app one person can collect a lot more data, with a higher degree of accuracy, and there is no disruption to other road users.

“The data is made available to our staff on a web portal, which allows them to watch the video and download a large number of useful reports.

“The information is now being used to plan future maintenance activities ranging in scale from pothole repairs and repainting road markings to major carriageway resurfacing schemes. This will ensure that we are making the best use of the available roads budget, targeting the roads which are most in need of repair.

“The pilot project has been very successful.”

Funding for the initiative, reported by Edinburgh Live to be £14,000, came from West Lothian’s digital capital fund and was approved by its customer and digital programme board.

Councillor Tom Conn, executive councillor for the environment,” said: “This has been a promising project providing a unique opportunity to collect more data on the condition of the roads across West Lothian without disrupting the journeys of other road users. The accuracy of the data collected helps to reinforce planning for future road improvements and maintenance work across the West Lothian roads network.”

Image from helt2

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