City Releases Prototype of Smart Phone App That Detects Potholes
City partners with InnoCentive on “Street Bump Challenge”, a competition to enhance usability
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For Immediate Release
February 09, 2011
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Press.Office@cityofboston.gov

It can cause your coffee to slosh, your bike tires to pop, and knock your car out of alignment.  It is the pothole – a scourge of commuters in every city and town. Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his Office of New Urban Mechanics released a prototype hands-free smart phone application that detects potholes. The City of Boston also announced a partnership with InnoCentive and Liberty Mutual to host an international competition related to “Street Bump”, on InnoCentive’s online platform, the City will “crowd-source” ideas for improving the prototype in advance of wider release.

“Boston is known for its old streets, but we are using the most modern technology to improve them,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This application could be one more way to work with our constituents to make our neighborhood streets and major thoroughfares even better and safer to drive.”

The concept of Street Bump is simple and uses technology already built in on smart phones including their global positioning systems (GPS) and notes the location of the car and the size of the potholes it crosses. This data can then be analyzed to identify and address road conditions in Boston. The Street Bump Challenge will award the “solver” with the best method for using the data to map potholes and make the prototype app useful to residents.

This app not only pilots a new use of technology to solve an old problem, it also engages constituents in a new way to be part of the solution. 

Under the leadership of Mayor Menino’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the prototype version of the application was built in collaboration with Citizapps, a partnership between Fabio Carrera, a professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Joshua Thorp and Stephen Guerin of the Santa Fe Complex and comes out of Carrera’s research on city knowledge. 

“Cities are filled with data waiting to be harvested and used to strengthen neighborhoods and improve people’s lives,” said Carrera. “With Street Bump, we are demonstrating how citizens can contribute with minimal effort to the accumulation of city knowledge, and, in doing so, help improve municipal services.”

The Street Bump Challenge, which will be posted on InnoCentive.com, will allow scientists and software programmers, business people and other problem solvers from around the world to suggest their own improvements. The best submissions will receive awards courtesy of a $25,000 grant from Liberty Mutual.

“Liberty Mutual is committed to helping keep people safe on the roads and reducing the potential for damage to their vehicles,” said David H. Long, Liberty Mutual Group President. “We're delighted to provide a grant to the Street Bump program to recognize the innovative and creative use of technology to help eliminate the jarring and sometimes costly experience of hitting a pothole.” 

“InnoCentive is excited to help support the development of Street Bump,” said InnoCentive President and CEO Dwayne Spradlin. “Our global community of Solvers comprise more than 250,000 innovators from all walks of life who love to participate in Challenges where the solution that can be applied not only locally but all over the world. Of course, our proximity to Boston means we are particularly excited to see this solution implemented here.”

The Street Bump Challenge with launch in the spring. The Challenge will launch on www.innocentive.com, where the problem solvers will suggest better methods for the City to analyze the data and create more efficient ways to respond to road problems. Anyone can sign up with InnoCentive to be a solver. The City plans to make Street Bump available for other municipalities to use. 

Street Bump is a project of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Residents who are interested in downloading the app or entering the contest can go to www.newurbanmechanics.org/bump.

View Event Release Video

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Street Bump is a project of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics: Mayor Menino’s Office of New Urban Mechanics focuses on piloting transformative City services that tap into constituents’ civic engagement and leverage new technology.  

About InnoCentive, Inc.

InnoCentive is the global leader in Challenge Driven Innovation that bridges the gap between great ideas and actual solutions to drive measureable results. Recognized as an open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer, InnoCentive’s proven methodology, expanding global network of creative and passionate problem solvers, and cloud-based technology platform enable organizations to tap all potential sources of innovation – employees, customers, partners, and InnoCentive’s unmatched Global Solver Community – to accelerate their pace of innovation and evolve into true Challenge Driven Enterprises.

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