Welcome to the VOTERS Project!
The VOTERS project created a simple, inexpensive way to detect surface and subsurface roadway defects, enabling continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways without setting up hazardous and expensive work zones, and providing accurate up-to-date pavement condition information to decision-makers.
Civil infrastructure construction and maintenance represent a large societal investment
Despite being the lifeline of commerce, civil infrastructure is just at the beginning of benefiting from the latest advances in sensor technologies that provide for cost-effective monitoring and threat reduction. According to the latest ASCE report card (www.infrastructurereportcard.org/) US roads only get a grade of D, commenting that “Forty-two percent of America’s major urban highways remain congested, and costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. While the conditions have improved in the near term, and Federal, state, and local capital investments increased to $91 billion annually, that level of investment is insufficient and still projected to result in a decline in conditions and performance in the long term. Currently, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance.”
Roadway work zones, used for both assessment and repair, are a major source of traffic congestion, resulting in billions of dollars in wasted time, productivity, and fuel. The nation faces a monumental problem of infrastructure management in the scheduling and implementation of maintenance and repair operations, and in the prioritization of expenditures within budgetary constraints. The efficient and effective performance of these operations is crucial to ensuring roadway safety, preventing catastrophic failure. However, an uninformed approach to maintenance and repair is a poor solution. There is a critical need for technology that can cost-effectively monitor the condition of a network-wide road system and provide accurate, up-to-date information for maintenance activity prioritization to make the right repairs, in the right place, at the right time
VOTERS has developed an innovative and transformative technology that provides continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways
The VOTERS project (www.neu.edu/voters) was funded in 2009 by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Technology Innovation Program, which was established to support innovative and high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical need. The VOTERS project succeeded in providing not only the framework, but also creating a working prototype and developing a blueprint for a service to shift from periodical localized inspections to continuous network-wide health monitoring of roadways. VOTERS created a simple, inexpensive way to detect surface and subsurface trouble spots without stopping traffic. This innovative multi-modal multi-sensor approach centers upon infrastructure inspection and cyber monitoring through the use of city or fleet vehicles already on city roads and interstate highways, such as post office or sanitation trucks, police or other city vehicles, taxis, or delivery trucks. Traveling in traffic, multiple sensor subsystems will obtain measurements and data using a variety of innovative sensing methods: acoustic waves generated by tires and high frequency impulse radar to detect surface defects, subsurface delamination, corrosion, layer thickness and properties, millimeter-wave radar to determine near-surface properties of pavement, complemented by optical systems. Through data fusion VOTERS can provide accurate, up-to-date condition information without setting up hazardous and expensive work zones. VOTERS data-driven approach to assessing the pavement conditions allows decision makers to conduct the right repairs at the right time and right place.
The VOTERS project overcame the challenges associated with developing affordable pavement inspection sensing technology of different modalities that could be deployed widespread, software that manages all sensor systems automatically and controls the data flow from acquisition to the file server, where the data are processed, fused, and placed into a data base before being visualized in a web-based GIS application. The frequent repeat measurements possible with the VOTERS system allow for monitoring of the roadway degradation process. Having up-to-date network-wide pavement condition information available allows city officials to more efficiently prioritize and assign maintenance activities –potentially saving millions of dollars each year. The VOTERS’ technology has the potential to drastically alter the way roadway inspections are performed in the future. The technology is considered ready for transfer to the private sector for commercialization.
To learn more about our technology, visit the Research page.
To download a one page flier describing the VOTERS program click here
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