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  • Writer's pictureJames Golden

Lets explore Artificial Intelligence's (AI) role in the realm of pavement and asset management. As we navigate this landscape, it's important to dispel some misconceptions and provide a balanced view of what AI can truly achieve.

The Mixed Signals of AI's Advantages:

Let's cut to the chase—AI is making waves in pavement management. There's no denying that. However, we need to address the mixed signals that have surfaced regarding its advantages. As a seasoned professional, I stand as a witness to these signals. My experience, as well as that of my colleagues, confirms that AI is a game-changer, but not without its limitations.

The Road to AI's Reality:

I've walked the road (pun intended) of applying machine learning to asphalt distress assessment. Here's the scoop: AI is not the ultimate solution. It's an evolving technology with room for improvement. If you're a public works department, engineering firm, or related entity considering AI integration, brace yourself for both excitement and reality checks.

The Quest for Credibility:

Those familiar with my podcast and content know I'm diving deep into payment management issues. However, I don't hail AI as the ultimate savior just yet. Let's address the elephant in the room—AI isn't flawless. While it's progressing, it's not the perfect solution everyone envisions.

Decoding AI's Origin and Accuracy:

In a world flooded with AI-based solutions, the critical question is, where did these AI models learn their values? This origin story matters. While I won't name names, there are reputable companies offering AI-driven pavement condition assessments. But let's ponder the source—is it based on comprehensive data or hastily assembled datasets? This distinction matters immensely.

AI's Imperfections and Distress Recognition Challenges:

Now, let's confront the core issue: AI's struggle with accurate distress recognition. Unlike a smartphone's learning process for facial recognition, pavement distress identification is complex. AI's difficulty lies in categorizing diverse distresses that intertwine over time. This poses a challenge—separating and classifying these distresses accurately for consistent analysis.

The Value of Qualification and Validation:

Why does all this matter? Because AI's assessment of a pavement's condition can dictate major decisions. If AI misreads a pavement's state by even a slight margin, it can lead to recommendations for unnecessary repairs or, conversely, neglecting critical treatments. Validation and verification are essential, ensuring accurate maintenance recommendations.

AI's Roadmap to Maturity:

AI will undoubtedly improve. However, it's not yet a silver bullet. If you've heard claims of infallible AI models, take them with a grain of skepticism. While some may boast perfection, I'm yet to witness it. This isn't to downplay AI's potential; rather, it's a call to ensure we employ AI strategically, in tandem with expert analysis.

Navigating the Future, AI vs. Expertise:

Let's address a common concern—AI taking over jobs. Yes, AI will reshape certain aspects, but it won't overnight replace the value of human expertise. AI's strength lies in rapid assessment, not in inferring the most optimized maintenance plans. That's where your expertise shines—utilizing AI's data for informed decision-making, not replacing human judgment.

The Balanced Approach:

As we pave the way toward an AI-augmented future, remember that AI is a tool, not a magic wand. It's our responsibility to navigate the evolving landscape with wisdom. AI isn't the end-all, be-all, but it's a powerful companion in our journey toward better pavement management. Let's ensure its application aligns with expertise, validation, and a true understanding of our community's needs.

Keep Paving The Way

Author: James Golden, Founder and CEO of Pavement Management Group

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  • Writer's pictureJames Golden

In this episode of Road Insights Podcast, we're delving into a critical topic that affects our roadways and environment—heat.

As we look at the scorching temperatures during the summer, it becomes evident that the heat emanating from asphalt pavements plays a significant role in our urban landscapes.

The Urban Heat Island Effect: Where Asphalt Meets Concrete Jungle

Often characterized by concrete jungles, cities are heavily laden with asphalt infrastructure. As a result, they contribute to the "urban heat island effect." This phenomenon occurs when buildings and asphalt surfaces retain and radiate excessive heat back into the atmosphere, significantly raising temperatures in urban areas.

Walking on Fire: Asphalt Surface Temperatures

Imagine walking on a hot summer day. Now, picture the surface temperature of an asphalt roadway—surprisingly, it can reach a sweltering 160 degrees Fahrenheit, even when the ambient temperature hovers around 104 degrees. Such extreme heat poses risks to pedestrians, pets, and vehicles alike.

Asphalt Challenges: Cracks and Bleeding

Heat not only affects human comfort but also impacts the infrastructure itself. Asphalt's flexibility is crucial to its longevity. However, under intense heat, asphalt may develop micro-cracks or experience bleeding, where excess asphalt material seeps up through the pavement surface. Such issues can lead to accelerated deterioration of roadways, especially in high-traffic areas.

Cooling Solutions: Tackling Urban Heat Islands

Thankfully, some cities are proactively combating the urban heat island effect. One example is the "cool pavement" program initiated in Phoenix, Arizona. By utilizing specialized mixed designs, they reduced asphalt surface temperatures by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. This improves comfort for pedestrians and helps alleviate environmental concerns related to excessive heat.

Pave the Way for a Cooler Future

As we continue exploring heat's impact on our roadways, we encourage innovative solutions to create more sustainable and comfortable urban environments. Keep an eye out for our future episodes on pavement maintenance and other road-related topics. Remember, together; we can pave the way for a cooler and safer future for our communities.

Author: James Golden, Founder and CEO of Pavement Management Group

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  • Writer's pictureJames Golden

Roadway Challenges for Communities

In a recent visit to an upscale community in Orlando, we discovered a costly road maintenance plan. The community manager aimed to mill and overlay the entire road network, estimated at a staggering two to three million dollars. But is this the right approach for their roads? Let's find out.

Identifying the Right Treatment

The key issue is identifying the proper treatment for each road at the right time. We noticed a former engineer on their board driving the discussion, leading to the costly mill and overlay decision. Let's explore a smarter alternative to save valuable community resources.

Weathering Woes and Simple Solutions

Florida's climate brings weathering and raveling problems to the roadways. These minor issues can be quickly addressed with patching and rejuvenation, locking the pavement in good condition for years. It's time to rethink traditional approaches and embrace smarter, cost-effective solutions.

Networking and Learning

To make informed decisions, network, and seek advice from various community leaders. Please don't forget to rely solely on one individual's perspective, especially if they have vested interests. Learning from others' experiences and case studies can lead to significant savings and better road maintenance outcomes.

Paving the Way for a Smoother Future

Embrace preventive maintenance and preservation treatments. These techniques are no longer taboo or snake oil. Your roadway network can level up and maximize community resources by taking calculated risks and learning from successful examples. Let's work together to pave the way for better road conditions.

Author: James Golden, Founder and CEO of Pavement Management Group

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