They’re having a big pothole problem in Indianapolis this spring. They have a big pothole problem every spring, but this year is particularly bad…maybe the worst ever. From what I’ve heard, they’re eating cars. People are looking to the city to reimburse them for damages. Good luck with that.
There’s a natural tendency in the Midwest to blame the weather for potholes. It’s cold here. But when you explain to folks that it’s cold in places like Minneapolis and they don’t have quite as many car eating potholes as Indy, then the story shifts. It’s not the cold as much as it is the freeze-melt-refreeze cycle. OK, how about Columbus Ohio and St. Louis, then? They both have the same weather patterns and yet their pothole problems have not morphed into the crisis they have in Indy. We have very few potholes here in Des Moines and we’ve been freezing and thawing since the middle of January.
So the weather plays a part but so does shoddy construction and a propensity towards half-assed maintenance. That’s what a local television outlet discovered while out and about. Apparently the city has this Gazillion Dollar Big Data Pothole GIS system where potholes get flagged when concerned citizens call them in. The callers claimed that the repairs weren’t being made and so they notified the TV people. The city argued that The Gazillion Dollar Big Data Pothole GIS system showed that the repair had been made and so that was that. Apparently nobody bothered to check. I assume that’s because it’s more fun changing red dots to green dots on a computer screen than it is to actually grab a shovel and head out into the cold-wet-dark to fill potholes.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking big data. I’m knocking people who buy these solutions and implement them without understanding how to use them. I’m mocking people who don’t train their people because they don’t know what they’re doing themselves. I’m mocking poseurs and pretenders who want people to think they’re high tech when they obviously do not have a clue. The proof is right in front of their eyes.
As I understand it, the pothole problem in Indy has gotten so bad that many of the city’s streets are going to need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Officials don’t know where the money is going to come from. They should have thought about that a long time ago, but maybe it’s not too late. I have a suggestion. It won’t cover all the costs, but at least it’s a start. Sell the Gazillion Dollar Big Data Pothole GIS system and buy some shovels with the proceeds.