How this startup maps India’s potholes with simply your cellphone

India is a country of many languages ​​and cultures, but there are some things in all states and religions. Potholes on roads are one of them.

No matter where you go in India, you will find one or more streets with potholes. While Indians have learned to improve their driving skills to level out uneven roads, accidents have occurred across the country.

According to the government, more than 2,000 people died and more than 4,000 died in 2018 from accidents caused by potholes in India. Also, there can be many unreported incidents that may not have come to the fore.

Google Maps has improved the way it maps Indian roads over the years, but it still lacks information about dents and voids on the road. This is a problem that a startup called Intents is trying to solve – and all it has to do is use the sensors in your phone

Tabrez Alam, Naresh Kacchi, Prakash Velusamy and Balasubraniam R founded this company earlier this year with the aim of collecting data on potholes and alerting users to prevent accidents.

The company created a simple application for detecting potholes using your phone’s sensors such as a gyroscope and accelerometer. The algorithm observes changes in the speed of your vehicle as well as sudden drops and jumps to determine if a road has potholes in certain places.

You can install the app and go about your business without having to register. The company says they don’t need your personal information. In order to improve the privacy of the collected data, it is stored behind a public key infrastructure (PKI).

The app is based on HERE map technology, but does not necessarily have to be used for navigation. You can use Google Maps or any other mapping application and the Intenets Go app will alert you to potholes through audio.

Intentions Go card with potholes in an area

In order to keep track of these potholes, the company needed a lot of data. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, people did not move. So the company has created incentives for trucks and cabs operator to install his driver app in exchange for cash rewards. In addition to potholes, the company also encouraged drivers to record other points such as police posts, wet spots, and blocked roads with photo evidence.

The app works offline. So if GPS is enabled on the phone, it will record the data and send it back to the server when the connection is available.

Now the two apps – Driver and Regular Driver – have more than 120,000 active users, more than 80% of whom are drivers.

The company claims its users travel more than 750,000 kilometers a day – with more than 150,000 potholes or speed limiters being recorded.

The app also takes care of repaired potholes. If more than 10 vehicles pass a location previously recorded with a dent, the cavity will be removed from the system. The startup claims to be removing 30,000 potholes a day based on this data.

Kacchi, Intents technology leader, said the next challenge is to improve the machine learning algorithm to measure the severity of the pothole. In the future, the app will show colored markers instead of potholes to show how deep the dent is. The team is also currently working on an iOS version of the app.

Potholes severity, a feature in the works

Intents is in talks with some trading partners, such as the construction and logistics company, who will benefit from monitoring the road situation. Intents also seeks to work with various government agencies to create dashboards that allow agencies to quickly fix road anomalies to prevent accidents.

Published on December 26, 2020 – 07:00 UTC

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