Street Bump: using smartphones to support more efficient road maintenance

Potholes are a significant issue on the City of Boston’s roads, and in the first quarter of 2014 the city filled more than 10,000.

Data & Decisions

Talent & Technology

3 min read

Photography Street Bump

Historically, reporting potholes had been time consuming. It had led to under reporting, which often meant more damage to the road network occurred than might have otherwise been the case.

The City of Boston sought to use technology and innovation to make the identification of potholes more efficient and therefore, speed up their repair and reduce overall costs. This innovative initiative, called ‘Street Bump’, allowed an app to be installed on smartphones that used motion-sensing technology to detect potholes when they were driven over. The initiative sought to crowd source information from residents on city road conditions. While there were numerous hotlines and websites in place for drivers to report potholes, Street Bump was the city’s first attempt to automate the reporting process. As well as increasing the efficiency of repairs and improving user satisfaction, the app provided valuable insights into the condition of the city’s roads. For example, it was found that the most frequently reported problem was sunk manhole covers. Working with utility companies in Boston, the city fixed 1,250 of the worst manhole covers.430