Embedding information about road surface quality into Google Maps to improve navigation

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One key tool for navigation is a map; it helps users to identify locations and features of a particular area. Anecdotally, Google Maps is one of the most commonly used navigation tools. Google Maps indicates the specific locations of a user and gives possible routes to a desired destination. Among the features indicated on the map are roads. They show where to move from one point to the other; but the map provides no indication of road surface quality. In some countries such as Ghana, not all roads indicated on the map are good. There are some poor roads, which when encountered by motorists while driving, results in bad driving experience. However, motorists can only tell on Google Maps the various routes to their desired destination without knowing the nature of the roads. Therefore, having a feature that would show the road surface quality on Google Maps would help motorists especially in Ghana plan their routes or even plan to reduce their speed on a given road due to the nature of the road. The focus of this project is to design a "road surface quality" feature that would be embedded into Google Maps to assist motorists determine the quality of roads during navigation. Ultimately, the road surface quality information would be obtained by crowdsourcing this information from many users running a mobile application that classifies roads based on accelerometer readings. Crowdsourcing is a method of obtaining information from a large group of people. The application for road classification is being developed by a colleague, Delali Vorgbe, but the specifics of how the classification is done are outside the scope of this work. This thesis focuses on how the information gathered about the road surface quality would be displayed on the map to the users, and whether having this information improves the navigation of users. The premise of this thesis is that when motorists continually provide their road data, the road surface quality information would accurately reflect the state of the road on the map. This feature on the map would then have an impact not only on motorists but on the nation as a whole. This is because when motorists know the road surface quality ahead of time, it would help them decide in advance the best, safest and most comfortable route to use. They can also plan to drive carefully on the poor roads if no other routes are available.
Thesis submitted to the Department of Computer Science, Ashesi University College, in partial fulfillment of Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, April 2014
Ghana, geographical information system, information design, road surface quality, Google Maps