SmartPhones that Fix Potholes

San Francisco potholesIt seems that our smartphones are getting smarter every day. And according to an article in last Monday’s New York Times, that could be good news for San Franciscans hoping for better and more reliable public services from the city.

The Times reported on a program being pioneered in Boston that is using data obtained from cell phone users driving on city roads to detect and report when a car hits a pothole. The program, called Street Bump, relies on applications like GPS that are already implanted in many smartphones – meaning that the city is not spending millions of dollars to install sensors on the roads or using other expensive methods to detect problems.

San Francisco has a long and storied history of “pothole politics” and the latest proposal by Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors would cost $248 million to fix up city streets, tunnels, bridges and staircases. The repairs are always going to come with a heavy fee – making it all the more important to cut costs on the reporting end.

San Franciscans have come to rely on their smartphones for getting around town – using tools like NextBus to see whether Muni is running on time (or more likely, not), searching for parking spaces using the new SFPark app, and maybe soon we’ll be able to hire taxi cabs through a new smartphone app the MTA is considering.

But at Reset we’re interested in finding ways that we can use technology to actually solve problems. And in this sense, the Street Bump program is a big step in the right direction. Identifying and reporting potholes early makes it more likely that they will be fixed faster.

Its nice to know that as our phones get smarter, our basic public services should get better.
 

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137