Have you ever known that there was a pothole in a specific location and wondered why it took so long to get fixed? Or maybe that pothole still exists. Not many people are willing to call their city and demand that a certain pothole be patched up. This is why the City of Boston is developing Street Bump, an Android app that makes use of a smartphone’s accelerometer and detects potholes so that they can be patched up early, eliminating the need for more expensive repairs at a later time.
Although the idea behind the app is simple, its implementation is not. Last year the data that the prototype app gave was so muddy that is was useless. Aside from detecting bumps in the road, the app could not differentiate between taking the phone out of the pocket and moving it around in one’s hands.
As such, the city, along with InnoCentive, launched a contest, with corresponding prize money, to anyone who could figure out equations that differentiate real pothole bumps from normal vibrations. Those who won the contest came up with equations that would detect all potholes. Their equations still need tinkering before the Street Bump app is released sometime this summer. And, if their app is successful, it can be used by other cities around the world.