Providing Continuity to Surface Discontinuity: Automated Sidewalk Assessments

Posted: January 17, 2018
Tagged As: Asset Management, budgeting, Risk Management, Roads Assessment

Sidewalks are an important part of any municipality’s asset portfolio, and one with a potential for high liability if a resident trips or falls due to poor maintenance.

StreetScan Three Wheel Scooter and Stroller for Sidewalk AssessmentsIn Ontario, the key measurement for sidewalks is two centimeters. If a ‘surface discontinuity’ (bump, lift, ledge, etc.) exceeds two centimeters, it must be repaired within 14 days of acquiring knowledge of the fact. Ontario’s Minimum Maintenance Standards require sidewalks to be inspected once per calendar year. That sidewalk is then deemed to remain in the inspected condition until the next inspection, ‘provided that the municipality does not acquire actual knowledge of the presence of a surface discontinuity…’ in the meantime.

Manually inspecting sidewalks can be time consuming and often subjective.  What’s more, unless precise documentation is collected it can be a challenge for municipalities to prove in court that they are indeed meeting the maintenance standards. As part of our Roads Assessment Service, LAS and StreetScan are proud to introduce sidewalk assessment to Ontario Municipalities.

3D Generation of ‘Virtual Sidewalk’ for Computer AnalysisThe sidewalk assessment service uses the same GPS and 3D camera systems as the road assessment vans, but in a smaller package designed specifically for pedestrian walkways. Cameras mounted to a three-wheel scooter or stroller generate a 3D ‘virtual sidewalk’ for computer analysis. Machine learning reviews the 3D images to recognize sidewalk hazards, ensuring any 2cm ledges are identified quickly and accurately. Because the data collected is retained in the software, municipal staff are able to prove the condition of the sidewalk at the time of inspection if needed. An important note: as this is a new service, the use of the data in a courtroom has not been tested.

Ramp Angle and Clearance Data with Condition AssessmentThe data can also be used to evaluate ramp angles and clearances for adherence to Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. The evaluation will provide a condition assessment, allowing staff to monitor sidewalk deterioration over time. The condition is analysed similarly to pavement, providing a recommended maintenance and replacement plan for the most efficient use of sidewalk maintenance budgets.

The data is accessed through the same custom PaveMON GIS system as the roads data, allowing for easy integration with existing GIS and asset management software you may already be using. In the example below, key features on the sidewalks are flagged by the software – orange boxes are metal valves, red stars and bolts are different types of surface distortions, and uplifts caused by tree roots for example, are highlighted in purple. Different sidewalk materials (concrete, asphalt, brick, etc) are also identified. 

PaveMON Screenshot Showing Sidewalk Features
All data is hosted by StreetScan, and is accessible by unlimited users on desktop or mobile devices. Repairs and replacements can be added into the system continuously, allowing the sidewalk condition inventory to stay up-to-date between scans.

As with the road assessment service, the sidewalk assessment is a great candidate for the FCM Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP). This funding is available to cover 80% of project cost, up to a total of $50,000. As part of our service to municipalities, LAS has much of the application ready and will assist municipal staff in preparing the necessary forms.

If you’re looking for more information on this service and plan on attending the ROMA Conference in Toronto January 21st to 23rd, feel free to join us for our “On the Road Again” information session on Sunday January 21st at 2:45 pm.  Otherwise, you can contact Tanner Watt directly to learn more.

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