City managers will soon have a new tool for optimizing roadways, thanks to recent research and software development from Ohio State University. Researchers developed software that identifies false-positives generated by in-road vehicle detectors that are reporting inaccurate numbers, the university announced Aug. 7.

In a study that monitored 68 Ohio in-road detectors, researchers identified six detectors that were prone to false-positives, also known as “splashover.” Error rates in those detectors ranged from less than 1 percent to 52 percent.

"A host of city services rely on these data. We've known about splashover for decades, but up until now, nobody had an effective automatic test for finding it," said Benjamin Coifman, associate professor of civil, environmental and geodetic engineering at Ohio State. "With this software, we can help transportation departments know which detectors to trust when deciding how they should put their limited dollars to work."

The software works by using common patterns to spot anomalies in detection.

The study was facilitated by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and funded by Nextrans, the U.S. Department of Transportation Region V Regional University Transportation Center, and by the University of California's Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, in cooperation with the state of California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Coifman and doctoral student Ho Lee described the software in detail in the October 2012 issue of the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.