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Utah DOT Turns to Real-Time Images to Track Road Conditions

The Utah Department of Transportation is partnering with Blyncsy to provide dashcam imagery showing road conditions in and around Salt Lake City. The cameras will be mounted on ride-share vehicles, among others.

damaged roadway
The Utah Department of Transportation will partner with Blyncsy to provide dashcam imagery showing road conditions
Shutterstock/Suwichan
Real-time imagery of highways in Utah could aid in the state’s management of road maintenance.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will launch a pilot project June 1 with transportation technology provider Blyncsy to provide images of highway striping on some 350 miles of state and interstate roads in Salt Lake County. The project will use the artificial intelligence-powered Payver platform. The images will be gathered from dash cameras propped in the cars of ride-hailing drivers, truck drivers and others operating in the professional driving space.

The technology will offer up a window into the condition of roadways in a much more immediate fashion than the state has ever previously had, say officials. The data will point out where striping has worn away or been recently replaced. However, the system could be trained to find other roadway problems, like stray cones or lane barrels, or missing highway signage.

“We’re not interested in buying data, just to have data. We’re trying to get understanding and information from data,” said Robert Miles, director of traffic and safety at UDOT.

The DOT every year or so conducts a lidar scan of the roadway system, which includes a survey conducted with high-resolution photography to gain insights into the condition of the roads.

“And from that, we can get counts of signs and whatnot,” explained Miles. “But it’s trying to keep track of things that happen between those officials counts, or census, if you will.”

This level of data and analysis will provide insights into the day-to-day variations of roadways.

“All the things that people complain about, that they use these click-and-fix apps for, we’re trying to eliminate that so the public no longer has to have these concerns,” said Mark Pittman, founder and CEO of Blyncsy. “How do we help the DOT get ahead of the issues, so they’re not waiting for the public to help identify the problem that needs to be solved.”

The images gathered from dashcams are de-identified by a third-party said Pittman, adding license plates and faces are blurred.

“Even reflections of people’s faces in a mirror, or a windshield” are hidden, he added.

The UDOT pilot is not alone. Blyncsy is in talks with other transportation departments in states like California, with other states to follow.

Similar projects have been launched in cities like Las Vegas. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has partnered with Nexar, which also uses dashcam data to gather up crucial information around highway work zones. Nexar is involved in similar pilots in Los Angeles, Ohio and Maricopa County, Ariz., and was selected for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grants in Dallas, Texas, and Pinellas County, Fla.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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