Detection, classification, and mapping of U.S. traffic signs using google street view images for roadway inventory management

Vahid Balali, Armin Ashouri Rad, Mani Golparvar-Fard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Maintaining an up-to-date record of the number, type, location, and condition of high-quantity low-cost roadway assets such as traffic signs is critical to transportation inventory management systems. While, databases such as Google Street View contain street-level images of all traffic signs and are updated regularly, their potential for creating an inventory databases has not been fully explored. The key benefit of such databases is that once traffic signs are detected, their geographic coordinates can also be derived and visualized within the same platform. Methods: By leveraging Google Street View images, this paper presents a new system for creating inventories of traffic signs. Using computer vision method, traffic signs are detected and classified into four categories of regulatory, warning, stop, and yield signs by processing images extracted from Google Street View API. Considering the discriminative classification scores from all images that see a sign, the most probable location of each traffic sign is derived and shown on the Google Maps using a dynamic heat map. A data card containing information about location and type of each detected traffic sign is also created. Finally, several data mining interfaces are introduced that allow for better management of the traffic sign inventories. Results: The experiments conducted on 6.2 miles of I-57 and I-74 interstate highways in the U.S. –with an average accuracy of 94.63 % for sign classification– show the potential of the method to provide quick, inexpensive, and automatic access to asset inventory information. Conclusions: Given the reliability in performance shown through experiments and because collecting information from Google Street View imagery is cost-effective, the proposed method has potential to deliver inventory information on traffic signs in a timely fashion and tie into the existing DOT inventory management systems. Such spatio-temporal representations provide DOTs with information on how different types of traffic signs degrade over time and further provides useful condition information necessary for predicting sign replacement plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalVisualization in Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Data visualization
  • Detection and classification
  • Inventory management system
  • Roadway assets
  • Traffic sign

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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