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UT Students Develop App Aimed at Warning City about Potholes

Close up of hands operating a smart phone.

Last winter’s plentiful rains might be responsible for an explosion of plant growth in East Tennessee, but as any driver in the area can attest, they were also responsible for the excess of something not nearly as pretty: potholes.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation had to fully repave vast stretches of interstate lanes because of the abundance of potholes, which can be a nasty surprise to unsuspecting drivers.

Now, students in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering have developed a solution for future pothole proliferations that will alert the city to roadway problems.

“We developed Potify as a way of notifying road crews to sites where potholes had formed,” said Ankush Patel, a junior from the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), where the team is based. “When you mark a location, it creates a work order that is sent to our database and displayed on a dashboard, which shows a card for each newly created work order. In conjunction with Google Maps, you can select several work orders at once, routing crews to fill in potholes.”

Their idea grew out of the team’s participation in the Knoxville City Hackathon, where the Knoxville public transportation department took interest in their prototype and encouraged them to continue working on the app.

Patel said that the app would be beneficial to both those submitting the orders and those fulfilling them, since it streamlined the process into a few easy clicks and commands.

The team, comprised of Patel and Vijay Rajagopal, Noah Sewell, and Vicki Tang—all juniors in EECS—also designed options like the ability to include images of the site, the status of the repair, and real-time updates from the sites, and plans to add on other features in the future.

They have begun beta testing and have met with city officials to discuss the app.

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