Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials
February 16th, 2012
09:51 AM ET

Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Here's the problem with the whole Gov 2.0 movement: People are lazy.

Plenty of apps - SeeClickFix among them - allow diligent, digitally minded citizens to snap photos of potholes and send them to city hall. But that takes effort and, let's be honest, it's not something many people will follow through with.

Further, the pothole data that comes from these apps can be haphazard and, by definition, is subjective. One person's pothole could be another's divot.

Perhaps the digital sensors in smartphones can do a better job all by themselves.

That's the idea behind Street Bump, an Android app piloted by the City of Boston. The app, which should be available to the public this summer, makes the smartphone's accelerometer do the job of sensing potholes. If you're driving and you hit a pothole while the app is loaded, Street Bump pairs up data about the size of the bump with a GPS coordinate - and sends that to a city database.

The hope, said Nigel Jacob, co-chair of the mayor's office of New Urban Mechanics, which is managing this project, is that Boston and other cities soon will have a "real-time" map of road conditions, allowing them to catch potholes - "pre-potholes," as the city says - earlier and to prioritize road repairs more broadly.

Ultimately, that will save the city money, he said. (For the curious, the city does have enough money to fix the potholes it finds with this app, he said. I'd wondered if ignorance might be bliss.)

The app initially was developed and tested last year. But it didn't work. Jacob and his co-chair, Chris Osgood, drove cars around the city - their sights set on hitting potholes (Once, they popped a tire). Their Android phones registered the bumps, but the data was a mess. Potholes showed up as indistinguishable from railroad tracks and other normal driving obstacles. Further, if they moved the phone - taking it out of a pocket or tossing it up on the dash - its accelerometer registered similar bumps, too. Street Bump found plenty of bumps. But who knows how many were potholes.

Discouraged by the muddy data, the city decided to launch a global challenge in partnership with a group called InnoCentive. Liberty Mutual donated $25,000 in prize money for the group or groups that could use equations to distinguish between a pothole-y bump and all those other run-of-the-road vibrations.

Three winners were announced, and the city is working to implement their algorithmic solutions now.

Ed Aboufadel, chair of the math department at Grand Valley State University (and who has an awesome picture of himself dressed up as Neo from "The Matrix"), worked on the project with undergraduate students. In an e-mail, he said the app shows promise but that it isn't able to perfectly detect potholes using the algorithms he helped develop:

For our method, we could detect practically all the potholes in the test data that was provided by the City of Boston, but we also found some “false positives” – railroad crossings, speed bumps, and the like.

Smartphone accelerometers are also inconsistent, which makes the data difficult to analyze. He said:

An issue with this method of data collection is that the sensors on smartphones are not as sophisticated as ones that engineers might use in research and other projects, so you have to do your best with the data. For instance, with the version of the Street Bump app from last summer, data was recorded 3-5 times per second, as opposed to 300 times per second with more sophisticated equipment.

Another problem, according to Jacob and Osgood, from the city, is that the app drains a phone's battery life quickly - as fast as a couple of hours in some cases.

They'd planned for drivers to keep the app running in the background all the time, but they've since decided app users should only turn the program on when they're going on a drive. This serves three functions: One, they won't kill their batteries; two, they'll realize they're "volunteering" their phone's time, and may feel good about that; and three, they'll know when the city is aware of their GPS location. Phone data is anonymous, they said, but privacy could be a concern - as it almost always is with location-aware services.

Despite all these obstacles, the city is confident developers will be able to work out the kinks in time for this summer's release. The code behind the app and the algorithms used to analyze it will be released as open source, so cities around the world can pick this up if they'd like. An iPhone version may be in the works, too.

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Filed under: Politics • Smartphones • Social change • Tech
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Louna

    Do you know of any support amessge boards that are helpful? I used one years ago and now would like to recommend one to a good friend. She suffers from depression and anxiety. She is on medication and sees a psychologist.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:22 am | Reply
  2. Julie

    luv the "self-healing" asphalt idea. the app wood detect potholes everywhere and anywhere in rochester. it would be put NYS in the red! it's riduculous and obnoxious to drive here!!

    February 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  3. EC

    App detects potholes, tells city.... which promptly does nothing about them because it'd rather pay gold-plated benefits for its politicians and associated flunkies.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:57 am | Reply
  4. Texas Coyote

    If anyone asks yet again, why the OCCUPIERS (OCCUPY is a worldwide permanent protest movement for justice and more equity for the working class) all over the United States and World are protesting. Listen up!“You control our world. You've poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You've liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants... to your decadence. You've stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic human rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You've profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living, while lowering our wages. You've monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education and have almost extinguished our flame. Now you (international and domestic corporations) are trying to cripple/sabotage the internet by making our U.S. Congress create and pass SOPA/PIPA type legislation to end our ability to communicate and/or protest online effectively!! We are hit...we are bleeding... but we ain't got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution! WAKE UP AMERICA! SUPPORT OCCUPY!

    February 20, 2012 at 3:03 am | Reply
    • Sgt. Big Toe

      Lighten up, Francis.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
    • GetAJob

      Blah, blah, blah. A lot of noise for someone without a job.

      February 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • BK

      Right, I'm all for Occupy, but shouldn't you be posting this in a relevant article so you don't make your group look like it is full of nutcases that can't read?

      February 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
      • Madhu

        9:01Those items ARE the citys responsibility. They were done by other myoras, and will have to be done eventyually.Ward is just putting them off, at greater expense to the taxpayer.Ward is being derelect in not doing the job, and is copping out so that he can look good with his union buddies by not laying people off. It is clear that staff can be reduced, he is just afraid to make the tough decisions.Certainly not a manager.

        March 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  5. C. Sheen

    I'm lookin' for an app that will detect pot, screw potholes. You can't smoke them!

    February 19, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Reply
    • Stateschool

      Give them a little time. Pretty soon there will be an app that will tell the feds all about that pot in your pocket.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:35 am | Reply
  6. SixDegrees

    Kind of silly, really, the more I think about it. The way they fix potholes around here is simple: they drive a truck down the road looking for them (and in the spring here, they are rarely disappointed); a guy walks behind the truck and fills them in as they go, followed by a roller to compact them. The road departments don't dispatch crews to fix individual potholes. And potholes don't typically appear in isolation. So the current system works well, and may in fact be optimal in terms of labor efficiency.

    February 19, 2012 at 6:59 am | Reply
    • Carla Vazq

      The 'Newt" Gingrich will have his after school janitors go out and fix the holes!

      February 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • Ali

      Kristin,WOW.I finally lieenstd to the talk. It's so good and exactly what I needed to hear as I know I've been trying to numb some of my emotions lately and avoid them. This was awesome. There is a lot there and I'm going to share this talk with my LG! Thanks!

      October 22, 2012 at 6:34 am | Reply
  7. Doug

    Does anyone realize that this app will be rendered useless when self-healing asphalt is invented.

    February 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • Hasina

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      May 19, 2013 at 1:14 am | Reply
  8. jona

    Siri.. please tell me where the potholes on my ride area.

    "I am sorry.. I don't understand"

    Siri.. potholes are holes in the road.

    "I am sorry. Would you like me to search the web for holezintherode"?

    Siri You suck.

    February 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      Heh. I was just watching the Apple Siri commercial and noticed that, although users asked their phones a lot of questions, they only got two answers out of it, and those simply repeated back what had been asked.

      February 19, 2012 at 6:53 am | Reply
      • MaxwellSHammer

        Siri is pretty lame honestly. I don't see a reason to spend an extra 100 bucks when you can get basically the same phone without it. (Now obnoxious Apple fan boy will tell me all the reasons 4S is better....)

        February 21, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  9. thys hauptfleisch

    I thought the Google Car was checking for it already.

    February 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  10. Chilton

    I'm going to write an app that helps you identify whether or not you've stepped in a puddle.

    February 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • Andzej

      I think we sabotage oluesrves too much. Like for me, I come from a background of abuse and constant drama. Because of this, it took me years to break out of that cycle in my own life even after I moved away. I had to realize that I could live without creating my own drama drama was what I knew and understood, but because of the familiarity I was afraid to let go even though I moved to get away from it all. I'll have to look up that term, very interesting!

      April 30, 2012 at 4:42 am | Reply
  11. VikasD

    Very cool. Kudos to the idea. If technical obstructions can be overcome, it seems really useful. There will potholes that people can almost always avoid, and those will be harder to detect, but that is no different from the current situation. At least the other ones will be detected and repaired faster. And to improve d-prime, they can count a 'hit' only if a location is reported multiple times. So random events like dropping the phone wouldn't trigger a false hit.

    February 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • ThinkingOutOfTheBox

      Logic can be programmed into pothole repair. Think: (1) location, (2) intensity and (3) frequency. Location – many drivers with daily travel along certain highways know where most pot holes are located and tend to drive in a manner to avoid them. So, if the location of a pothole registers multiple hits above an unspecified threshold, it is reasonable to assume that the pothole was unavoidable and may be in need of repair. Intensity – likewise, if you find yourself calling a tow truck to get you out of a roadway located pothole, that pothole definitely needs fixing (and your car probably will need fixing also – smile). Frequency – if a pothole is more like a buzz strip (like those located along rural and isolated highways to wake dozing drivers), then the entire stretch of roadway may have reached the threshold for requiring fixing; likewise, if many hits are logged. Smart phones work with smart systems. The system may be programmed to prioritize spending limited funds and scheduling roadway repair by either (1) location, (2) intensity or (3) frequency, or any combination thereof.

      February 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  12. Tr1Xen

    What a cool idea!

    February 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • Nishu

      I do enjoy the manner in which you have fmaerd this specific difficulty and it does indeed give us some fodder for consideration. Nevertheless, because of what precisely I have personally seen, I really hope when the actual reviews stack on that folks remain on point and not start on a soap box regarding the news of the day. Yet, thank you for this excellent point and though I do not necessarily concur with this in totality, I respect the perspective.

      March 18, 2012 at 6:28 am | Reply
  13. William Thompson

    Before spending thousands of dollars trying to perfect this app, why didn't the inventors run an article like this asking for public comment – which appears here to laugh at and totally reject use of the app? Who is going to purposely drive into a pot-hole – risking thousands in car repairs to report the hazard on some techie app? Certainly nobody in their right mind. This is the app that results from government stupidity – wasting money and time. Let the thousands of city workers and garbage collectors report the darn pot-holes as part of their job descriptions – and end this folly.

    February 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  14. SixDegrees

    Pothole 2.0 – when the app detects a pothole, it notes the location and throws money at it after connecting directly to your bank account, rendering government obsolete.

    February 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  15. truth

    oh HELL NO! there's tons of privacy concerns and the question of whether the government will quickly move in and search files on your phone. they are violating the individual's rights to privacy. the supreme court has already ruled it is illegal for the government to install gps devices on a private citizen's car or personal device without a subpoena. this app will definitely fall in the category of a disclaimer of "permission to obtain data and gps location" with the individual's consent. people will soon find out the government is tracking their every movement.

    February 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Reply
    • Terence Washington

      You sound quite paranoid. The Gov't has better things to do than to see when you are at the bowling alley or Dunkin Donuts. You watch too much "Person of Interest" on TV.

      February 19, 2012 at 8:35 am | Reply
  16. Jason

    So, let me get this straight. YOU want ME to drive head first INTO potholes (it's the only way I would have the App "on" in the first place – an intention to get them to register into the App) and further damage my vehicle (maybe even get a Flat Tire or damage a CV Joint or even an Axle – Yay!) AND – I better make sure I do it fast and furious enough (really get into it now!) to make sure it registers on my phone app. Now that's really taking one for the team!......that you hope responds. Do I send THEM my repair bill too? I mean after all...I am taking one for the team...shouldn't THEY?! I get the idea....I just don't think the developers even thought about what you are asking people to do with their cars to collect the information needed. Think about it. How many times do we cringe and cuss when we hit a pothole we didn't see?? And to now have to do it on purpose? Really?! Count me out.

    February 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • tzvikf

      There is not enough memory in the world to keep track of the number of potholes in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

      February 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  17. tony

    It could also be modified slightly so that you could keep a personal best record of everywhere and when
    "You felt the earth move"

    February 18, 2012 at 11:29 am | Reply
  18. newton

    ultimately, the destination of this effort probably is to install these into caltrans city vehicles. otherwise, if a civilian was goofing around with this app holding up traffic, i would be the first in line to shoot him

    now, it sounds pretty good installed in a caltrans city vehicle. the problem of course is you will need 4 of the app working instead of 1. 1 doing the work, the other 3 standing around pretending their helping

    February 18, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
  19. Fed-up with Dangerous Texas Roads

    What we need is an App that detects drunken road planners in Texas. Fire the lot, there’re all deadheads, every one of them.

    February 18, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • John in Katy

      Oddly enough, most of them seem to be Aggies!

      February 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  20. Frank PA

    I think this is a great idea of technological use! Would like to see more ideas like this.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • cap

      Several people noted that becuase they intentionally avoid potholes, the app can't detect a bump. Certainly someone using the app wouldn't intentionally drive through a damaging hole. The algorithm should be able to also use that avoidance information (sudden swerving detected with the accelerometer) as an indication of a spot that might has a pothole.

      February 18, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
      • jdsaiofj

        In Boston, a lot of times you can't avoid potholes because of traffic on all sides.

        February 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  21. Chilton

    This won't work. The suspension in your car would even out the pothole 'bump' to the point it's nearly identical to just waving your phone unless it's a seriously huge pothole. How about just make an app with a button that says, 'pothole' and you click it, and it tags it? No false positives there, unless the user is being a jerk.

    February 18, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      My thought exactly; this won't work unless you mount the sensor on the wheel. Maybe it could be combined with the air pressure sensor now becoming more common, but it moves the problem to the manufacturer rather than the driver.

      February 18, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Beelzel

      The popular navigation app WAZE allows users to report road conditions (including potholes) manually... this app is up and successful ... why not tap into that resource vice making a new mousetrap?

      February 18, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
  22. Lori

    Give it time... I am sure someone can work all these little bugs out and make this into a really helpful app. If they city doesn't have money to fix the potholes, then I am sure they won't sign up for the service in the first place.

    February 18, 2012 at 8:45 am | Reply
    • Jack Kevorkian

      They'll sign up anyway so they can tell people why they need to increase taxes.

      February 18, 2012 at 9:02 am | Reply
  23. Reemo

    In related news, city officials create an app that automatically deletes any messages about pot holes.

    February 18, 2012 at 8:00 am | Reply
  24. FreedomStorm

    You are being conditioned to snitch on your neighbors for thoughts against Marxist tyranny.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:47 am | Reply
  25. Roger

    Unless that app sends money to the local DOT, it's worthless. Knowing where the potholes are is irrelevant if there is no money to do anything about them.

    February 18, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
  26. narrator

    So how was it you got in an accident. Oh you were using your cell phone to send an e-mail reporting a pothole while you were driving. Thank you very much for reporting the pothole, that will be $160.00 for texting and driving, yes we know you were texting because we tract you using GPS.

    February 18, 2012 at 6:47 am | Reply
  27. Stentor

    Crap, I had this idea over two years ago. I knew I should have written up that idea into an app. No excuse. Next time I'm going to get it done, I can't believe how many ideas I've had that have been invented by others years later. No excuses anymore.

    February 18, 2012 at 2:41 am | Reply
    • John

      Look we all get the same ideas from god through some sort of remote control over ur life. He is sitting in heaven with a remote plugging us all in on the same ideas. It is just a matter of time before the invention becomes real. Good luck on your ideas,but GOD is in control. I have millions of patent ideas that go far beyond some app. From hoouse to car to saving the world in general that have a lot of positive buzz. Problem remains we live in a world that has experation date due to the fact the Sun at some point will super nova.. We have not figured a way to get to another habitable planet.

      February 18, 2012 at 4:13 am | Reply
  28. Isaac

    Perhaps good for large cities, but in rural areas, completely useless. In the largest city in my county, about 25% of the roads are brick (and therefore bumpy) and in other cities about 25% of the roads aren't paved at all. Imagine the number of "pothole reports" from that...

    February 18, 2012 at 12:56 am | Reply
    • Adriana

      in regards to Meadowbrook; A City Rep who panreds and listens to the above "leaders." Both are vastly out of touch with the majority of residents in Meadowbrook and how their back scratching politics impacts the neighborhood. Just alot of pettiness that many of us are turned off by and not willing to be involved in which keeps the newbies at home and away from our neighbors for the most part. Maybe we should start having more frontyard block parties. BTW, I'm w/in ears reach of those weiner dogs on the corner. That corner of Meadowbrook is protected for sure! Great post. I love East Ft. Worth, it's beautiful and full of potential.

      July 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  29. blertybot

    Houston, texas has the worst roads in the country. they need an app like this that actually works.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Reply
    • narrator

      If they don't have the money to fix the potholes you are just wasting your time.

      February 18, 2012 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • Cristina

      Thanks for sharing! Great topic and well werittn as usual. I was feeling this way the other night and I called it emo', but I was definitely feeling vulnerable.This space, A beautiful mess, needs to exist! It picks up where churches and families and even friends have fallen short. P.s. That recipe sounds amazing!

      April 30, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
  30. Attila, The Hun

    After receiving the alert the city will not get to fixing the potholes for months.

    February 17, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      HAHA! I was gonna say the headline should read "App detects potholes, tells city officials who still ignore them."

      February 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
      • g

        exactly! they know where the potholes are already

        February 18, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  31. sean

    i may be underthinking this but couldnt someone create a program that would cross reference the "bumps" with where the railroad tracks are (come on they dont move around) and automatically eliminate them as flase positive readings?

    February 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Reply
    • Chilton

      Yes Sean, that's one way to handle this.
      What the author of the app knows, but won't admit, is that it's almost impossible to detect a pothole from inside a car with a modern suspension and shocks. There is no 'magic algorithm' that will work here. This app is a waste of time, and its authors know it.

      February 18, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
  32. JustMi

    You know where this comes from, right?

    There's a regulation in NYC that you can't sue for a trip-and-fall unless the City has been notified of the pothole and hasn't fixed it.

    So the personal injury lawyers maintain a database of thousands of potholes that they share with the City. I'll lay odds that, if you look up the ancestry of this lil' guy, you'll find an attorney or two in the woodpile.


    February 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  33. EnvironmentalGirl

    There is also an app called The Green Gumshoe that does something similar to this. It allows citizens to report an environmental incident in their community and send it to the proper agency, along with GPS coordinates and picture. I think apps like this are a great way to get communities more involved in what is going on around them. A lot of people might not do anything about it, but some might.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  34. Greg Haus

    What if the majority of reports are just speed bumps? And religious conservatives; I run over quite a few of those.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  35. Arelem

    This app is totally stupid. Unless you are some moron enamored with regularly replacing tires and/or wheels, or just plain can't drive, you aren't going to hit the potholes, you are going to go around them. So this app will do no good.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • wilson

      Wow, you must be really smart! You're able to see all potholes and drive around them even when it's dark and you're going fast! Amazing! Maybe you should report every pot hole that you see since you are so much smarter than everyone else?

      February 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Reply
      • Arelem

        You're obviously one of the people who can't drive. What moron drives fast on a city street, in the dark, where he can't adequately see the road to avoid potholes?

        February 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  36. ChrisH

    Get this app down to NYC ASAP!

    February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • zjttrxdkfj

      e9QWCa xoyfwzdgdqgv

      May 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  37. Jimbo

    Every time someone gets in a wreck the city will get a message about a pot hole ten feet deep.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • fred

      A friend said he parked his VW and had to climb out of the pothole he went into ... NYC rocks !!!!

      February 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  38. Matt

    This is a flawed app. Basically, this app detects when someone hits a pothole... the problem is that people go out of their way to AVOID potholes! It's a nice try, but the best way to submit a pothole problem via an app is already talked about above, is the have people input the information... yes it takes human judgement, but it's the better way.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  39. TruAmerikan

    I wonder how it will register if you make some road kill. Will it also alert the county they have a pick-up on Route 54?

    February 17, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  40. Rainbow dash

    lol, im cool

    February 17, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply

    How about they just react to the first phone call they get reporting the pot hole instead of sitting on their fat a$$es?

    February 17, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
  42. SixDegrees

    Although this sounds like a good idea, I don't see how it can possibly work when the car's suspension mechanism suppresses so much of the needed information and varies so much from vehicle to vehicle. It might make sense if the sensor was attached directly to the wheel – an interesting idea, maybe, for car manufacturers to look into – but the extensive smoothing and filtering the phone will experience inside the car seems to rule out success for all but the most enormous holes, which tend to get reported by way of angry phone calls in the first place.

    February 17, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply
  43. Prab

    The best way to filter out clutter is to use something like croud sourcing. If more than 3 or more phones sense a pothole at the same GPS location that is not a known false positive such as train tracks etc, then it should be investigated further by the city. With a little bit of refinement in identifying and eliminating false positives, it is possible to develop this further. Good idea.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  44. Jimmy Crack Corn

    This will be a great App for New Orleans users. Some potholes are so deep in New Orleans that if you look at them at night you can see the sunlight in China.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Reply


      February 17, 2012 at 8:02 am | Reply
      • Rainbow dash

        lol to you to crazy

        February 17, 2012 at 8:35 am |
      • Beerkan

        Late to the party, but here nonetheless.I keep thikning about going back for a PhD. I'm 28. I worked for two years before getting my masters, and it's been a little over two years since I got my masters. It's not that I want to teach, or don't, but I don't really think that I'll stay in academia once I get a PhD and that has me wondering if I should go at all

        July 21, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  45. sleipner

    Brilliant idea! Perhaps instead of checking all the time, the app could use the accelerometer to determine when the person is driving, and turn on then, turning off again when they stop.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply

      That would essentially be doing the same thing.

      February 17, 2012 at 8:03 am | Reply
      • Siddhant

        Posted on There's a scene in the classic film Cool Hand Luke where Luke, peyald by Paul Newman, gets into a fight with the biggest, baddest, dude in the work camp. He really doesn't stand a chance, but there's really no way out.He gets knocked down, hard, but picks himself back up. Then he gets knocked down again. And gets up again. And again. And again. Before long, everyone in the gathered crowd is yelling for him to just stay down, but he keeps getting back up.He won that fight, not by beating the other guy, but by winning over the crowd and by not giving up.I used a variation of this tactic once upon a time. Some dude tried to pick a fight with me by telling me I danced like an idiot. Well, he was right. I looked ridiculous out there on the dance floor. This wasn't news to me. So I agreed with him. He kept trying to insult me along the same lines, but, since I wasn't really offended by his observation at all, I kept agreeing with him.Needless to say, he got very frustrated and the gathered crowd quickly got bored. He just walked away.And I went back to dancing like a fool.

        August 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  46. Joe

    The city is limited, which doesn't report to the app notice. They hardly respond to minor problems like a pothole in the ground unless the police department suddenly got interest in it like their police cruiser hit one.
    On a few websites, they state along the lines of this:

    DOT maintains and removes snow for the roads within the state highway system. The roads in this system are generally numbered 600 and above. Nearly all roads in the County are part of the state highway system. DOT is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, but does not typically remove snow from sidewalks.
    Private roads are the responsibility of the residents/homeowners.
    Developers are responsible for roads in subdivisions that are still being built.
    County responsibility is limited to a few select roads such as the Lake Jackson and Bull Run Mountain subdivisions.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  47. rob

    How about a phone that detects texting while driving, then transmit the coordinates to the police.... Would be more useful.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      I think it would want a picture of the driver and their license plate if that were the case.
      Moving coordinates wouldn't be very effective unless you just happen to be following them.
      But then you'd be charged with texting and driving as well. You're using your cellphone which is a violation.

      February 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Reply
      • ThePROFESS10NAL

        Well then how about it just gives the driver a good zap to the face?

        February 17, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Greg Haus

      Yes, bring on the police state.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
      • Sai

        I wasn't raised w/a mpeoutcr. There are alot of scams out there, and many that say no exp. nec. You then get the info, and 1/2 of it you don't know what they are talking about. Is there anything out there that's fairly simple, that you can actually make a decent amt. of $$ at, w/out investing tons, and even maybe a little bit fun?!

        March 18, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Rob

      Greg – I was being sarcastic... Perhaps you are as well.

      February 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  48. rob

    But.... I NEVER drive over big potholes, I drive around them!! So basically the little bumps will be over reported while the big dippers will be nearly invisible. You're crazy if you don't try to avoid potholes. (I know some streets are so potholed they look like we've been through a war.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
    • rexslate

      "(I know some streets are so potholed they look like we've been through a war." – They have been through a war ... They are the streets which have not been gotten around to since the Revolutionary War ... It takes a little time for city hall to organize itself sometimes ...

      February 17, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
  49. Nathan Sokalski

    If there may be an iPhone version in the works, will there be a Windows Phone 7 version in the works, too?

    February 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply

      Windows phones are irrelevant.

      February 17, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
  50. Nathan Sokalski

    Try looking at how many times a "pre-pothole" was reported at a certain location, and if it was reported enough times for the same location, then go to the next level. Also, to avoid things like railroad tracks, just compare the location to see if it is the location of a railroad track. Basically, use the idea of repeated reports and known other things to help determine what a report came from.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  51. Edz314

    blimey. I blogged about this last month here it's actually quite worrying as the data set combines location and time data and even so called anonymised data can be analysed to extract personal information

    February 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      It's up to the presumably informed user to opt in. I'm not seeing a problem except for those individuals who blindly or compulsively poke any "Yes" button put in front of them.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:05 am | Reply
  52. Edz314

    blimey, i blogged about just this subject a few weeks ago here it's actually quite evil if you think though the ramifications of this data set, which records location and time

    February 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  53. jona

    SO .. in short it was a massive fail and someone wasted money on it. Differentiating a pothole from any other kind of bump isn't easy.. and since there isn't a city in the world that will respond in REAL TIME to a REAL TIME pothole detector.. There is absolutely NO HURRY. Simply read and process the data from every car passing and process days of data at a time to detect changing road conditions. Any changes in the roads condition are reported over 24 hours or so from hundreds of cars. Then you can filter out ANY data that should be there and always will be there, like railroad tracks and dead crack dealers.

    February 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  54. NOLA bookie

    Yeh, but then you have to get the city to actually care and do something.

    I have been emailing my city council person for over 6 months about what was a spot where the water people dug up, and it is now a 6 inch deep pot hole.

    Good luck!

    February 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
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      June 12, 2012 at 12:48 am | Reply
  55. andso

    CNN you have clearly made some mistake here. This article isn't about the iPhone at all. Did the editor call in sack today?Please return to your normal broadcasting bias.

    February 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  56. Mark H

    I would keep an eye on the Android market. I know there is an app and web page being created by a team of senior college engineers at an engineering school which will deploy their app in the next month. It will be much smarter than this app.

    February 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  57. us1776

    Now the solution is to use plastic ties to strap your cellphone to the front wheel as you drive around.

    This works perfectly.


    February 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  58. Sean

    I need that StreetBump thing down here in South Florida.. The Presidente SuperMarket in Lake Worth on 10th Ave and Florida Mango has a parking lot that you cant drive through without hitting at least 500 pot holes.. And those are only the ones that you cant avoid hitting, there have to be 5000 holes of various sizes throughout the parking lot.. I have seen open areas out west that have been taken over by Meerkats or prairie dogs but they have nothing on the potholes this parking lot..

    February 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • us1776

      Those are mini-sinkholes from the winter crop watering by farmers that drew down the water table.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  59. ProxSensor

    Instead of taking your eyes off the road, the app could pop up the question about the pothole and the app could use the prox sensor and just have the driver wave their hand in front of the phone for confirmation. If the prox sensor doesn't sense a hand wave in 4-5 seconds (that's a LONG TIME- count it out loud), then it assumes it was a false positive. Eyes never leave the road and your hand moves from the steering wheel for a second.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • Fitri

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      October 24, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
  60. palintwit

    The Palins like to spend their Sunday afternoons capturing small woodland creatures and pulling their tails off.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  61. Terry S

    Why not install the app with a device (not necessarily a smartphone) to all the city's fleet vehicles (police, fire, maintenance, garbage, etc.) and have them track potholes? For a city like Boston the fleet is probably in the thousands. While it wouldn't record as many potholes as the citizens of a large city, it would be a huge step to identify them.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • ThinkingOutOfTheBox

      It should be noted that all pot holes do not share equal priority for being fixed. Tracking the pot holes by the public will not only alert the city of the pot hole location but will also give a relative count of the population impacted who use the affected roadway and help prioritize the use of limited funds.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
      • rob

        er, at least the pot holes driven over by folks with smartphones, data plans, and running apps.

        February 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Brent

      Yeah right. The cost of that would be much greater. Think about how much it would cost to buy all of the devices, install and maintain them on thousands of vehicles. You would need a whole new department dedicated to it. Why would you do that if you could get thousands of volunteers to do it for you.

      February 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  62. Tyler

    They ALREADY KNOW where the potholes are. Duh. The street isn't great today and filled with potholes tomorrow...

    February 16, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
    • newton

      exactly.. all this effort and the city's response will be. . . .. crickets.

      February 18, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
  63. John

    " snap photos of potholes and send them to city hall. But that takes effort and, let's be honest, it's not something many people will follow through with." <-– If that's too hard, just give up on life. If you can't do the most simple thing to improve your society, then you'll be the one complaining to those around you, perpetuating negativity and doing nothing. Because as the author says "many people will not follow through with [it]." Maybe the author speaks from personal experience rather than speculating for the larger masses.

    Let me speak from personal experience. I've used an app called 'DIY Democracy' to report a pothole. It took the GPS coordinates of where I reported it, put it into an email, addressed to City Hall and made a template for the issue at hand. Do you know what happened?

    I got an email from City Hall thanking me for the information and they would send it on. I then got a call from that department asking where it specifically was located (the GPS point was close to a bridge so they weren't sure if it was above or below) followed by a thanks. It was fixed in a week.

    If it's that hard to help make your society better, please think otherwise. Don't wait for an app (or whatever) to do every little thing. They will never be perfect, nor should they be. Stay human, keep personal relationships the priorities first and irrelevant opinions second. Think for yourself and help your community be a better place. It's never been more convenient.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
  64. John Springet

    I've been a solver on Innocentive for some time, they are a cool company.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
  65. more2bits

    If only the city would actually use it. It's too stubborn and rigid in it's ways to try anything new.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • Steve Martinson

      How about when the phone "detects" a pothole, the phone beeps and the screen prompts the driver with a message "Pothole Detected!" and a big YES or NO button so the driver can confirm whether it's a pothole?

      February 16, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
      • nightsun2k7

        that's a great idea, simple and would work very well, you should get in touch with them and suggest it...i'm serious

        February 16, 2012 at 11:45 am |
      • yoshipod

        I don't think you want to drivers to have the take their eyes of the road right after they hit a pothole in order to press buttons on their cellphones.

        February 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
      • rob

        Why not have the App fill the pot hole. Right there on the spot!

        February 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
      • aj

        I agree, I think steve's is a very good suggestion. But, regardless, even if an accurate enough algorithm is sorted out, I don't see why anyone would use this app? "feel good about volunteering ones phone" is pretty ridiculous, nobody is going to run this app without some better incentive. People want to report a pothole after they hit one and it busts their tire, not before each random drive at the cost of their phone's resources/battery life. It would be interesting to know how much is being invested in this

        February 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Steve O

      I thought the thrust of the article was that the city initiated and piloted the program.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
      • Isadora

        My problem is I don't eacltxy know how to get started. What is the first step, and the subsequent steps. While Im trying to understand while reading I think there is too much imformation on what thr individual make instead of how to make the money or even getting started making the money. I need help.

        March 18, 2012 at 11:18 am |
      • Sulyz

        How about joyful taiterncy? Mt. 6:32-34. this world=life, His Kingdom=LIFEI am with you brother I often live in the uncertainties of this life,trying to surrender to the taiterncy of God and His Life! God bless.

        March 20, 2012 at 12:09 am |
      • thys hauptfleisch

        The Church is so shallow - I have stepped in deeper potholes...

        March 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |

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