A City Turns to an Algorithm to Prioritize Streetlight Repairs

With 5,000 broken streetlights and a repair staff short 10 workers, San Diego developed an algorithm to help prioritize fixes.

“My team looks at ways to improve the workflow in a way that outcomes are better for employees and also shorten repair and wait times for city residents,” said Kirby Brady, the city’s chief innovation officer and director of the Performance and Analytics Department…

The algorithm, which the city has been using for about two months, takes data from about 10 datasets focused on location, residential density, the presence of schools or parks, traffic collision information and streetlight work orders from the city’s Transportation Department. A script combines the data and does the calculations.

Factors such as equity, increased traffic collisions or the presence of a park that needs to be well-lit are weighted to produce a ranking of all 5,000 malfunctioning streetlights. In all, San Diego has 65,000 to 70,000 streetlights.