Squid and Water Sensors

This past week has been an exciting one for the Innovation Team. After months of researching, brainstorming, planning, getting buy-in, and making announcements, some of the initiatives that were proposed are now being piloted and launched.


You might remember (or maybe you have seen some of the news coverage) that one of our initiatives focuses on being more proactive when it comes to taking care of the roads in Syracuse. Right now, street repair crews fill potholes based on where people have complained. While the crews fill more than just the potholes that were complained about, they do not necessarily rove the city to find random potholes. This means the work is largely complaint driven, which is important, but not sufficient.


Enter the Street Quality Identification Device, or SQUID. You can read more about it from a previous blog post here. Last week, Varun Adibhatla, the project director behind SQUID, came to Syracuse to help install the device so that staff from the Department of Public Works could begin driving the 400 miles of roads in Syracuse to find potholes.


The pilot is not over yet, but by the end, we expect to have a complete picture of the quality of city streets. We think this data can be used to help:

  • Get out in front of complaints - we should know about many more potholes in the city and will be able to fix some of them before someone complains

  • Get a holistic view of the city’s streets to see which neighborhoods have higher quality streets

  • Plan where the pothole filling crews should go so they can focus on a particularly pothole-laden area of the city

  • Properly diagnose the pothole before a crew is sent out to fix it. Sometimes people make complaints about a pothole when in fact, it is a sunken manhole cover. This still needs to be fixed, but since we now will have images of all the roads in the city, dispatchers could diagnose the problem quicker and send out a sewer crew rather than a pothole crew.

  • See the effects of winter on the city’s streets. Assuming this pilot test is successful, DPW could drive the city’s streets before and after winter, and then compare the results.

  • Plan where to deploy different preventative maintenance measures like crack sealing or micropaving.

We are excited about the potential for SQUID, and since Argo Labs, the company that created SQUID, is constantly improving the product, the City of Syracuse should be able to help guide the product’s development.


Last week was not just focused on roads, though. A couple of companies are demonstrating how their water main sensors work so the Water Department can learn about leaks in the water pipes before they turn into breaks. This saves the city money because the repair is not as expensive, and it is less disruptive to the community as leak repairs can be planned while water main break repairs cannot.

The initial tests will be downtown, and if successful, in the future more sensors will be deployed throughout the city in areas that have been identified as high risk due to prior water main breaks.

We will have much more on the results from SQUID and the water main sensors in the near future, so stay tuned, and please let us know what you think in the comments below!