A Smooth Process for Detecting Potholes

Brian Heaton reports on a new app being tested by the City of Boston that can automatically detect and map potholes, using your smartphone, as you drive on the city’s street.
March 1, 2012, 6am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Developed by Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics, the new Street Bump app sounds too good to be true. No waiting for 311 to answer your call, no logging complaints or filling out forms, the new Street Bump app just needs to be on to work.

According to Heaton, "[T]he mobile application uses sensors embedded in mobile devices to identify vibrations that could indicate potholes or other road hazards. But unlike other 311 apps that require user interaction to log a complaint, all a person needs to do is turn it on. Technology takes care of the rest.

Relying on machine-to-machine communication, the app combines the vibrations it detects with GPS data and transmits the information back to the city. A software algorithm then deciphers whether a pothole is present. If so, a Boston Public Works Department employee is alerted so a repair crew can be dispatched."

Heaton reports that, "Although only in the pilot program stage, Street Bump is currently being tested by Boston's city inspectors, with plans to release a finalized version of the program to the public later this year."

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Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 in Government Technology
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