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SQUID to give Syracuse better feel for needed road repairs

Ellen Abbott
Varun Adibhatla, developer of SQUID technology, and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, discussing the city's use of the device to measure road quality.

The city of Syracuse is putting a technology called SQUID into use this month, which is meant to help city hall make smarter choices when it comes to fixing crumbling streets.

SQUID – or Street Quality Identification Device – is a tiny contraption that sits on the bed of a pickup truck used by the Syracuse Department of Public Works, designed to measure the quality of the streets of Syracuse.

Varun Adibhatla is project director of ARGO labs, which came up with the technology. He says Syracuse is the first city to use it.

"The device takes a picture of the street every second, which combines with accelerometer data, which measures the ride quality. So you have a more complete way of viewing street quality across the city,” said Adibhatla.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
The remote SQUID technology.

It comes with a $3,000 price tag, well worth it, according to Mayor Stephanie Miner.

"This is the kind of data that can … extend the life of that street for another five and ten years, and you don’t have to mill and pave the entire 400 miles of streets in the city of Syracuse, because given the resources we have, that is not going to be able to happen,” said Miner.

Syracuse’s Office of Innovation discovered the SQUID system as it looks for new solutions to infrastructure issues facing the cash-strapped city. Director Andrew Maxwell says the next thing will be technology that tracks leaks in the sewer system.

“We’re excited about what that will do, a similar philosophy about increasing our knowledge of the system, having better data, from which we can make better decisions.”


Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.