Pothole Patrol app gets game-changing AI

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 30 Jun 2023

Discovery Insure has upgraded the Pothole Patrol mobile app with artificial intelligence (AI) software to make it easier to identify road defects and potholes.

The app has led to almost 175 000 potholes in Johannesburg being fixed since inception.

According to a statement, the app has since launch used telematics technology to make it easier to locate potholes. The process of identifying potholes has now been enhanced by introducing AI software, which is able to detect road defects with high accuracy and efficiency.

The app, which made its debut in 2021, is an initiative of Discovery Insure, in partnership with Dialdirect and the City of Johannesburg (COJ), to support the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) to deal head-on with the serious issue of potholes in the city.

It uses geolocation tech to allow residents to report the exact location of a pothole for the attention of the COJ. It also enables residents to track other already repaired potholes across the city.

Discovery Insure estimates the impact of pothole damage costs South Africans approximately R500 million per month. This is equivalent to buying 550 000 new tyres each month.

“Notwithstanding this worrying picture, we have achieved our core purpose to enhance and protect lives by making our roads safer, through Pothole Patrol,” notes Kgodiso Mokonyane, head of strategy and value-added products at Discovery Insure.

“Through the initiative, all motorists in the City of Johannesburg have made great savings in prevented pothole-related incidents. The advanced AI technology scans every inch of the road, identifying potholes, cracks and imperfections in real-time.”

The AI technology also measures and categorises defects, providing invaluable insights for prioritisation and swift action, according to Discovery Insure.

Since inception, the app has reached about 13 000 downloads, and the project has used 7 000 tons of asphalt to fill 175 000 potholes, it says.

The app focuses on major roads in Johannesburg that are known to have potholes. The team of technicians also work with local authorities to identify and repair potholes in areas that are not regularly patrolled.

Last year, the City of Johannesburg’s PotholeFixGP made its debut. The province-wide app allows community members and road users to report potholes, poor road conditions and other road maintenance issues.

Discovery Insure and Avis Southern Africa yesterday announced a partnership to support Pothole Patrol in Johannesburg. The companies will work together to fund the app and launch the Discovery Pothole Patrol Academy.

The academy is a skills development programme to empower youth from nearby communities with skills that can be used immediately after the training, to improve their income-generating prospects.

Ramasela Ganda, group CEO of Zeda and Avis Southern Africa, comments: “This partnership will ensure we stay true to this commitment. By working together with Discovery Insure and the JRA, we can make a real difference in the lives of our customers and broader society.”