Street Bump App

Street Bump is an application developed by New Urban Mechanics out of the Mayor’s office in the city of Boston. They designed the app for residents to help the city address their ongoing problems with potholes on city streets.  Residents simply turn the app on while driving around and it records data about how smooth of a ride is occurring. The app then sends the data (geography and smoothness) to the city that then can use it to fix problems and plan for further road investments.  This app is very similar to SeeClickFix and is an example of co-production to a degree.  Residents are interacting with government and participating in one part of the solution. This technology is based on smart phones and their ability to detect motions, which has some promise.  My guess is that the technology might detect more bumps and other road factors (or human movements) rather than just potholes, but maybe the technology is more accurate than I think.  While there seems to be promise in using the technology in this capacity, I wonder whether residents are really interested in using technology that tracks their movements.  Further, it seems as if this app might be overkill for a problem that should be managed through normal maintenance monitoring and repair by city workers already traveling the streets. I am also not sure whether this app has too much application in other jurisdictions with less potholes or alternative uses. While I can’t find any numbers to demonstrate success, the app did win the 2013 Digital Government Achievement Award.


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