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Gov App Detects Potholes As Your Drive Over Them

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the bump-in-the-road dept.

Government 181

An anonymous reader writes "The City of Boston has released an app that uses the accelerometer in your smartphone to automatically report bumps in the road as you drive over them. From the article: 'The application relies on two components embedded in iPhones, Android phones, and many other mobile devices: the accelerometer and the Global Positioning System receiver. The accelerometer, which determines the direction and acceleration of a phone’s movement, can be harnessed to identify when a phone resting on a dashboard or in a cupholder in a moving car has hit a bump; the GPS receiver can determine by satellite just where that bump is located.' I am certain that this will not be used to track your movements, unless they are vertical."

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They don't have to put the app in your phone (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159386)

There are plenty of city workers with city-issued phones to find all the potholes. Take off the tinfoil hat.

Of course the purpose of this is to find all the potholes to the city workers can avoid them on the way home - and maybe make a nice graphical pothole zonemap for the city website. Actual road crews probably won't have access to the information.

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (4, Informative)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159446)

Not even necessary! Most people in my town report potholes to the municipality, all they need to do is LISTEN and FIX THEM.

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159982)

Fugged aboud it... unless yer gonna cough up a liddle xtra

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160080)

I always thought every municipality should have something like a bug tracking system that citizens could use. Does anyone know if some administrations ever tried that ?

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160176)

Yes. www.fixmystreet.com in the UK.

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (1)

Paua Fritter (448250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160262)

Check out this Aussie service "It's Buggered, Mate": http://its-buggered-mate.apps.lpmodules.com/ [lpmodules.com]
It's only a demo, though; you can report things that are buggered, but no-one gives a bugger

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159818)

If my grandaddy doesn't do anything about his car's suspension, they're going to be repaving every road he drives on.

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159846)

If my grandaddy doesn't do anything about his car's suspension, they're going to be repaving every road he drives on.

Only if he's black.

Just monitor police cars (1, Redundant)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159824)

Just monitor police cars and garbage trucks. They tend to cover most streets every few days.

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159986)

In the UK potholes are a major nuisance and the local authorities have a legal responsibility to fix them. The local council can also be held financially accountable to damage to cars/bikes that are damaged as a result of hitting potholes... although the process is lengthy and cumbersome.

It also springs to mind that you'll not get any motorbikes or scooters using this app as hitting a pothole (to activate the app) at even medium speed is likely to dismount you and injure or as has happened numerous times kill the rider. NB: bikes & scooters are used extensively for commuting in major towns and cities.

Lastly, doesn't this just encourage people to drive over potholes and in the process make them worse by further eroding the road surface?

Re:They don't have to put the app in your phone (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160600)

> There are plenty of city workers with city-issued phones to find all the potholes. Take off the tinfoil hat.

True, however we could argue the point that there are also plenty of city workers *driving* over the same potholes as everyone else, yet we still have potholes.

This is Just Another Database of information containing people's whereabouts which has potential to be hacked, lost on a laptop or smartphone, or used for something other than what it was originally intended.

If you could care less, then argue for opt-in/opt-out.

swerves? (4, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159390)

does it log when you very slightly swerve to avoid a big pothole?

like most people do?

i guess if it's REALLY big you couldn't avoid hitting it.

Re:swerves? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159410)

and how does it differentiate between potholes and, say, old people?

Re:swerves? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159634)

and how does it differentiate between potholes and, say, old people?

How to put it in layman terms? The potholes are... well... holes. The old people are... more like speed-bumps.
The accelerometers will show if the car went down-up or up-down... If the car stops immediately after, in the first case they'll send the towing truck, in the later they'll send an ambulance.

Re:swerves? (4, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159720)

Oh noess.. the phone was upside down.. Now the government thinks I ran over old people.

Think about that.. seriously.

Re:swerves? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159760)

Think about that.. seriously.

Think. What a preposterous suggestion... would I be able to do it at this hour, I'd be doing the job I'm paid for instead of posting on /.

Re:swerves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160546)

Think about that.. seriously.

Think. What a preposterous suggestion... would I be able to do it at this hour, I'd be doing the job I'm paid for instead of posting on /.

... at this hour ...

You know, there some novelty lately. Since in some parts of the world it is dark at this hour, where as in others it is light, some weird kids came up with the idea to divide the world in time zones ... you know, like it's 00:00 here and on the other end of the world it's 12:00.
I mean , come on.. drive too far an you'd have to reset your watch ...
Kids these days ...

Re:swerves? (3, Informative)

scrib (1277042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159844)

It's late, so pardon me taking you TOO seriously, but the phone, in any orientation, knows which way "down" is. See, there's this force called "gravity" which acts exactly like accelerating away from the center of the earth. It's how phones know which way you have 'em oriented. If the measured acceleration sharply lessens then increases then you are dipping into a pothole. If the acceleration is the other way around, you've run over a... speed bump.

If the app's voice recognition software catches you saying "oh shit, do you think anyone saw that" they know to send the police.

Re:swerves? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160074)

See, there's this force called "gravity" which acts exactly like accelerating away from the center of the earth.

Really? I was under the impression that gravity was accelerating me towards the center of the earth. At least, when I jump, I seem to come back down again. Maybe I'm standing upside down.

Re:swerves? (1)

takev (214836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160228)

It's just you.

Re:swerves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160394)

Really? I was under the impression that gravity was accelerating me towards the center of the earth.

You need to think about it some more. It is the act of "not falling" that is being detected. If you accelerated to your left the accelerometer would be "pulled" to the right. Now which way is the accelerometer being pulled by gravity?

Re:swerves? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160648)

Oh, I see how he was wording it now. Sounded like he was saying gravity acts by accelerating you away from the center of the earth.

Re:swerves? (2)

bronney (638318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159780)

and if the car went left right left right A B start, you has 1up!

Re:swerves? (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160732)

and if the car went left right left right A B start, you has 1up!

I'd prefer the invincibility mode to make rush hour driving way faster. Or at least to survive hitting potholes.

Re:swerves? (4, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159414)

Yes... this is probably really about detecting people texting while driving.

If you have the app on your phone, and you pick your phone up while moving to start typing your text message, the phone will detect you have lifted it while driving; and immediately use satellite/GPS to determine your position, transmit the alert to the local authorities together with your phone's front-facing camera output.

As police are homing in on your position, the facial recognition software will match your face and alert them to the make and model of your car, and they'll bust the driver for texting

Re:swerves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160422)

Is it wrong to pray for this to happen, while fearing the unintended.

Re:swerves? (4, Interesting)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159468)

I agree this smells of a developer that thinks they've come up with a great innovation that won't work in practice. I've used accelerometers in vehicle / equipment monitoring applications and unless the mechanical bonding is solid and/or known the results are practically useless. Especially with a phone where having it in your pocket while you adjust sitting position and any other number of things will possibly have a similar acceleration profile to hitting a pot hole.

They'd probably be better having a way to report things from a menu, then you could cover things like traffic lights out and other general traffic hazzards. Anyone that cared enough to run the app probably wouldn't mind pulling over in a safe spot, adjusting back the position from their current position and submitting a report. You could assign a "karma" to each user account to help prioritize and sift out asshats, and it would also remove any privacy concerns.

Re:swerves? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159540)

The acceleration profile for a pot hole being hit would easily be compared to both current speed and position, and shifting of a phone in a pocket would easily be detected and ruled out. (As you're supposed to have it on your dash board)

Not to mention they can require several reports before marking a pothole... You know... These are all things done for other fuzzy inputs.

Re:swerves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159660)

They won't be on the dash because it would be a blind spot plus the batteries won't recharge if hot under the glass. There won't be multiple reports because once the first person hits the hole and bumps up and down all the rest behind will see and swerve as well. If you had it on the dash they would be stolen as well and you'd probably be carjacked for your phone so i doubt the city will want there employees at risk.

Re:swerves? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160100)

There won't be multiple reports because once the first person hits the hole and bumps up and down all the rest behind will see and swerve as well

Troll much, or just stupid? Are there only 10 drivers on the road each day, all in the same convoy? Also, they'll bump down and then up if they hit a hole, and no people don't really watch out for that kind of thing in my experience. If I hit a pot hole, so does the person behind me. Even if I swerve they often still just plough over it.

Re:swerves? (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159820)

The acceleration profile for a pot hole being hit would easily be compared to both current speed and position

Let me tell you there is absolutely NOTHING easy about characterizing a system mass, spring, damper, damper (yes 2), with not only unknown but variable mass spring dampers even when you know a very rough approximation of what the impact velocity is, and I say rough because GPS doesn't give you an instant speed and people have a tendency to swerve, slowdown and do other strange reactions when there's obstructions on the road.

Just of the top of my head the things that will mask your signal:
Unknown speed,
Unknown mass of the car,
Unknown rim size and unknown tire pressure giving you an unknown dampening reaction to the bump,
Unknown shock absorber stiffness, and
Unknown coupling between the dashboard and the phone (how soft or hard is your dashboard), as well as angle of the phone on the dash.

With so many unknowns it is impossible to characterise a bump of a pothole from any of the other things that may happen. Was that a minor pothole or did the guy just drive over the lane reflector?

Re:swerves? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159888)

I've used accelerometers in vehicle / equipment monitoring applications and unless the mechanical bonding is solid and/or known the results are practically useless. Especially with a phone where having it in your pocket while you adjust sitting position and any other number of things will possibly have a similar acceleration profile to hitting a pot hole.

All that changes when you're getting input data from a variety of vehicles over a span of time. With that kind of data, you can analyze it statistically to sort out the noise from the signal.

Re:swerves?: Multiple data Points... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159976)

I think that what you are missing is that they would not react to single data points but groupings of data points. For example, the road crew won't roll until there have been more than, lets say, 50 hits in the same position or area. As you have pointed out, a single data point could be anything. A large number of data points forms a pattern.

David

Re:swerves? (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160066)

They can filter out false positives by considering only multiple reports at the same locations.

Re:swerves? (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160406)

I agree this smells of a developer that thinks they've come up with a great innovation that won't work in practice.

I think it's clever and will work quite well. If you've got a few dozen "bumps" in the same location it's probably a good idea to send out a crew to inspect it, as obviously something is going on.

Re:swerves? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160588)

I'll bet that the results from any given vehicle would be useless, but integrated over thousands of separate trips over the same road space it may build up a decent map of the road surface. I image that a vast oversampling would be required to average out the noise inherent to any one vehicle. I suspect that it will be useless simply because adoption will be too low to provide the necessary data smoothing.

Still, it's worth a try. All it costs is someone else's battery life.

Re:swerves? (1)

nwmann (946016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160742)

or instead of taking 1 or 2 minutes out of their time while screwing with traffic patterns to get over should it happen to be busy some developer out there could develop an app for your phone... where you can sit it oh idk on your dashboard or cupholder as the SUMMARY states... and if enough people running the app have a bump at the same spot then it could be bumped up to priority or if the accelerometer registers a larger than normal bump it could be indicative of a more serious problem. don't knock someones innovative way of solving a city wide problem just because you think you've got a better idea.

Re:swerves? (3, Funny)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159532)

No, this is for detecting potholes in Boston. Most of the swerves will be for other reasons, or no reason at all.

Re:swerves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160298)

I can assure you that it is possible, even while writing comments on my iPhone, to avoid any po

Great will it then get car-sick too? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159400)

1) Distribute pothole detection app to citizens.
2) Observe network overload when they all drive down Wilshire Blvd. at rush hour.
3) ???
4) Profit!

Re:Great will it then get car-sick too? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159744)

That was my first thought. I live in East Dunbartonshire. Even considering how much cheaper 3G is in the UK, I don't think I could cope with the bandwidth bill.

Re:Great will it then get car-sick too? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160432)

Wow, you get a 3G signal out there? My Mum lives in Helensburgh and I can't get a signal there above 2 bars. Just shows you what a difference of 40 miles can do in the UK :P

How exactly does it work? (1)

citoxE (1799926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159408)

I can't help but sound stupid, but how exactly can it detect when you've driven over a pot hole or are just shaking your phone up and down? Isn't this what road surveyors are for in the first place?

Re:How exactly does it work? (3, Interesting)

flatulus (260854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159434)

I can't help but sound stupid, but how exactly can it detect when you've driven over a pot hole or are just shaking your phone up and down? Isn't this what road surveyors are for in the first place?

Correlation. Any single "bump" - not interesting. A dozen or so "bumps" with the same lat/long: Send an inspector to that location. Good chance you'll find a pothole (or a dead body) in the road....

Re:How exactly does it work? (2)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159538)

Exactly,
and how do they know you're driving?

Local jogging club causes 10 miles of road to be dug up

Re:How exactly does it work? (2)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159770)

not seen many people jogging at 20-30 mph +

Headline of the future (2)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159412)

Government program undermined by Lowriders.

Is this how low the bar has dropped? (3, Funny)

flatulus (260854) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159418)

I can see hundreds (nay, thousands) of people signing up to participate in this, thinking "how cool!" All the time the city builds gigabytes of records of where the subscribers were (in the latitude/longitude sense) and who knows, maybe the next step in the plan is to issue speeding tickets based on the GPS telemetry.

Cellphones are the work of SATAN, I tell you!

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159550)

SATAN?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SATAN

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159562)

You're suggesting they will encourage people to use their phones to report potholes, and then issue speeding fines using the collected data? I'm sure that'll really encourage participation in the program.

The government has more efficient ways of oppressing you than asking you to opt-in to a pothole-reporting system. Put down the tinfoil hat.

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159618)

What is more efficient than a fully automated speeding ticket generator with no officer required?

"I'm sure that'll really encourage participation in the program."

Which is why they will wait until they have a lot of participation before they even begin the ticketing phase.

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (2)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159590)

Speeding is the same conclusion I came up with. I could see the next headline "Gov uses app to catch speeders reporting pot holes." Of course, this could be a good thing too. The app data may be able to capture where people speed the most and setup speed traps, especially if people are speeding in dangerous areas such as school zones. Other possible good uses include identifying street congestion that hasn't been reported, most commonly used routes for road improvements, and most common reroutes and side streets to keep an eye out on areas that will need expansion soon. Really a mixed bag of good and evil.

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159608)

Aside from the fact that no one would use the app if it were being used to issue speeding tickets, attempting to gauge someone's speed remotely with periodic GPS readings would be laughably inaccurate. "Sir, the readings here show that you accelerated from 10 to 180 mph in the course of five seconds...in a school zone. I'm afraid we're going to have to take your license..."

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159840)

My Samsung Android's GPS actually tracks speed fairly well up to ~180 MPH - I haven't been faster, so can't say how well it does above that.

I had to install a GPS utility to get all the good info our of the GPS.

My guess: They'll use it as advertised until they realize how much ticket revenue they are missing out on. Then a rash of tickets will be mailed out. The coffers will swell... and the roads will STILL have potholes.

Re:Is this how low the bar has dropped? (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160576)

It's a whoosh moment. No one can accelerate from 10-180MPH in 5 sec, unless you're driving a F-18.

Ha, AGPS fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159428)

If past performance is any indication of future results, about 1/10th of the time, my potholes will show as being on the front lawn of the persons house on that street... Assuming it actually gets the street right at all, and doesn't mark me as being in the lake like it does time to time.

Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 500 m (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159430)

The most accurate I've seen is 47 meters but often my phone is 1500 meters off.
At times, when using google maps, I'm driving somewhere a half a mile off the road until it snaps back on.

I wish it were more accurate.

Oh and get this...

It reports my location like (this is not my actual location hackers)

21.7324
-92.7823

within 450 meters.

LOL. 4 digit precision... within 450 meters..

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (2)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159556)

Presumably, a single report would never be used to identify a pothole, as that could easily be a fluke (maybe the user dropped their phone while driving through the area). Rather, you would want to wait until you'd gotten a reasonable number of reports from the same area to ensure that there actually is a pothole in the road; a convenient consequence of this would be that you could average the responses from that area, which should go a long way towards correcting for GPS inaccuracy. At very least it should be good enough that a city worker could find the pothole in the course of a couple minutes driving around...

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159564)

LOL. 4 digit precision... within 450 meters..

You might want to double-check your calculation. A minute of longitude at the equator is equal to 1 nautical mile or 1852 meters. For a rought calc if you assumed there were 100 minutes in a degree instead of 60 you'd still have two decimals left making it around 18 meters of precisions. Rule of thumb is 4 decimals equates to around 10 meters.

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159710)

I think that that is the GPs point - that the device reports more digits than can be remotely accurate.

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (3, Interesting)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159736)

Sounds like your phone is using the cell tower for location instead of the GPS chip.

Civilian GPS should provide a worst case accuracy of ~8 meters at a 95% confidence level. [pnt.gov]

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160884)

That doesn't hold true once you get into the urban jungle, or essentially any location where you do not have a clear view of a large portion of the sky.

This, incidentally, is the case in quite a lot of metros in the US.

Re:Okay.. so you know where a pothole is within 50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160468)

You are obviously not using a GPS so why is this relevant? The figures you cite sound like cell tower positioning.

Actual GPS results will easily be in the usable accuracy range -- the odd outliers won't matter as the data will be used in statistical analysis anway: only massive clusters of pothole locations will actually trigger an action.

Interpretation of phone movement (0)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159448)

How on earth do you determine what caused a phone to move?
If you knock your phone into the passenger footwell reaching for your cigarrettes, are the council going to come next day and tear your road up?

Re:Interpretation of phone movement (1)

ottawanker (597020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159470)

Simple, the city just waits until 500 people have hit the same pothole, and only then sends someone out to check.

Re:Interpretation of phone movement (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159624)

Simple, the city just waits until 500 people have hit the same pothole, and only then sends someone out to check.

1. Put large hose or similar across road (in the middle of nowhere)
2. Wait for 500 cars to run over said hose
3. Remove hose
4. Watch confused road crew respond to "pothole"
5. Repeat

tracked movements... (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159450)

I am certain that this will not be used to track your movements, unless they are vertical.

So it doesn't log which potholes you run over? Sorry, I'm not particularly afraid of having my movements tracked, but I'm trying to make sense of the quoted sentence...

Re:tracked movements... (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159566)

I believe the point the summary is trying to make is that they won't be tracking your location all the time, but simply recording it when you go over a pothole. Hopefully even then they'll just store the location in a database without any identifying data, but if you're really worried about someone extrapolating your route from the locations of potholes you've driven over, then this app isn't for you.

Re:tracked movements... (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159864)

"someone" wouldn't need to do much extrapolation at all to drag me down, if they notice regular bumps over the pothole on the road to the town whore house [or whatever]. I wonder why the author I quoted above can be, as he writes, certain the app will not be used to track my movements. Not that anyone would care about my movements per ce, but let's imagine I'm a celebrity, politician, or something.

Trailer trash Friday evenings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159462)

Trailer trash better turn them off Friday evenings

Here comes automated speeding tickets... (2)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159472)

They just intentionally place two "minor" speed bumps (literally) in the road, and when your GPS tells 'em you're on the road, the timing between the bumps tells 'em you're speeding, and they send you a ticket. A failure to pay same then results in the app telling the nearest police car that you're passing by. Nifty.

Re:Here comes automated speeding tickets... (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159584)

I know courts in the US aren't always the most astute when it comes to judging the scientific validity of instruments used to measure our compliance with the law, but I like to think that they would recognize how completely, wildly inaccurate such a measurement would be and not allow the issuance of tickets based on it. Putting aside the obvious privacy laws they'd be breaking in the first place, of course.

Cooool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159488)

That is so cool, unlike here it takes days, weeks, and sometimes months before the government decide to close a small potholes. Sometimes they just pour in some white cement and it only last 2 or 3 days before start cracking up, where this only happen after the hole is out on the local newspaper.

Easy to develop because it doesn't do anything (2)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159502)

Why bother actually collecting the data if you never intend to fix the pot holes?

In the monitoring station... (3, Funny)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159548)

Guy1: Hey WTF is going on here? We are detecting a lot of bumps in a very secluded area.
Guy2: So?
Guy1: The vehicles seems to be not moving.
Guy2: Ah! Valentines day!

Gotta rethink my driving habits... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159558)

Oh, shoot! If I participate with this program, won't be able to fornicate while I drive. Else Big Brother is gonna think the city is more pockmarked than the moon!!

Re:Gotta rethink my driving habits... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159686)

Oh, shoot! If I participate with this program, won't be able to fornicate while I drive. Else Big Brother is gonna think the city is more pockmarked than the moon!!

No, they'll just send someone to plug that hole you are hitting so often... after all, that's the very end purpose of the application.

And in other news... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159574)

For the last several weeks, city workers have been attempting to fill an unexplained rash of apparently-invisible pot holes on Lovers' Lane.

"I don't get it," said Area Supervisor Ed Jamacated. "From the readings we've been getting, it should look like the Grand Canyon around here."

Get out of my phone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35159636)

Sounds to me like just another way for the government to track the movements of average citizens. Go fuck yourself, government.

what's the point? (2, Interesting)

noahm (4459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159672)

I lived in metro-Boston for a long time (I moved away about a year ago), and my only question about this whole project is, "why?" The Mass DCR (Dept of Conservation & Resources) is legally free of any liability for damage to cars due to road disrepair, and it is clearly evident. Potholes deep enough to cause severe damage are common, and unless the DCR staff goes out of its way to avoid ever driving, there's no way they could be unaware of these. (That's hard to imagine, since the only organization more poorly run in the entire Boston area is the MBTA, operator of the public transit system.) You don't need a GPS to find the potholes, you just get in your car and drive, they'll find you. Just watch out when they do!

I suppose, in fairness, that this article is only referring to Boston proper, not the greater Boston area. Problem is, nobody lives in Boston. Most people live in Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Brighton, etc, etc. Maybe the roads in Boston will be great because of this, but everybody's car will be so trashed by the time they get there that it won't matter.

Gah. The SF Bay Area is fucked, but this really makes me not miss Boston!

I've lived in or around Boston my entire life (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159822)

And there are potholes. But not as bad as you make it seem. At least compared other Cities that get a good amount of snow. New York and Pittsburgh are two that come to mind. I'm not saying it isn't a problem, but I just want to make it clear to people who are not familiar with the area. I've never once gotten damage from a pothole severe or otherwise. It happens, but I've only heard of it once or twice second hand.

An app for that? I'll whole-heartedly agree with you there. I don't see a reason for that.

Thinking more about it.. (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159832)

I'd actually WELCOME more potholes in Boston. Maybe it would slow some of those crazies down!

Re:Thinking more about it.. (1)

noahm (4459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159874)

I'm not sure about that. It's pretty apparent to me that the crazies don't have much concern about the condition there car is in once they reach their destination. As long as they get there first! Damage is a secondary consideration.

Ok, I'm probably exaggerating, but man, there are some crazy drivers there! As far as I can tell traffic laws are viewed merely as suggestions, and there's no enforcement at all. For all the crazy driving I witnessed in the time I lived around there, I probably saw no more than 2 or 3 instances of police involvement.

Re:Thinking more about it.. (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160610)

No, it would just make their steering more erratic.

Actually, from the short time that I spent driving in downtown Boston, the drivers seemed pretty much much on par with most big cities.

Re:what's the point? (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160188)

Problem is, nobody lives in Boston. Most people live in Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Brighton, etc, etc.

While most of the people in the Metro Boston area don't live in Boston itself, Boston is nevertheless the most populous city in New England. The next-most-populous city in the metro area is Cambridge, and it's only about 1/5th the population of Boston.

Also, Brighton has been part of Boston since the 1870s.

The Mass DCR (Dept of Conservation & Resources) is legally free of any liability for damage to cars due to road disrepair, and it is clearly evident.

DCR mainly only runs the parkways, which admittedly are some pretty major roads. But most of the roads in the city don't fall under DCR; the city's own Department of Public Works maintains them. Or that's the hope, at least.

Re:what's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160844)

Funny, I've never heard 645,000 people referred to as "nobody". That's about 6 times the population of Cambridge and almost 10 times the population of Somerville. Oh, and by the way ... Brighton is a neighborhood of Boston.

Amusing... (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159684)

At first I thought that said Potheads and was like, do we really need an App for that? They're not that difficult to pick out.

lollll...I would agree - to date... (0)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159698)

Technology evolves, and as the reality of "flood-up/trickle-down" economics - the reality that the only thing that trickles down is pain - becomes ever more evident in ever more desperate state and local governments...

For instance, triangulation and transmission delays from cell phone towers in combination with GPS data could be used immediately to narrow down location, and privacy concerns? Heck, they just stick that label of the system is necessary to apprehend fleeing terrorists, and then soon enough it will bleed into the privacy of the individual American..coerced, perhaps, by communities desperate to fund their police forces with traffic offenses.

I wouldn't rule anything out...like, I never thought my government would lie my country into invading another nation, and then lie about the "Six days, six weeks, I doubt six months..." duration to protect some tax cuts from the application of basic math, and then lie about the need for more troops and so delay a surge until a critical Presidential election had passed, and then lie about stuffing key government departments with people chosen on the basis of their ideology, and then lie...

umm (1)

Mcavity (962581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159714)

why do I see reports coming in from the local "make out point"?

..unless they are vertical. (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159776)

Then the City's gonna be looking for a lot of potholes at yo momma's house.

Encouraging driving into potholes? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35159842)

So are they encouraging people to actually drive into potholes and potentially damage their vehicle? I've never met someone who, when seeing a pothole, didn't move slightly in either direction to avoid it.

Interesting idea, but practicality says it's not going to work very well.

Re:Encouraging driving into potholes? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160210)

If the pothole is bad enough, they're encouraging people to drive into the pothole so that the car itself fills it.

bumpy ride? (1)

SlashV (1069110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160118)

"I wanna boom boom boom with your body yo" "It's gonna be a bumpy ride"
Wonder what the government will think about those potholes ;)

What's the real reason??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160182)

Hey as if the services don't know where they have potholes! They have workers, cameras, etc. And what if it is not a pothole? Absurd! And another quetion arises - what is the real reason for the app?
Katerina from ipad application design [intellectsoft.co.uk]
 

Misread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160200)

I read that as Gov App Detects Potatoes As Your Drive Over Them

Y'all are overcomplicating this... (1)

Loopy (41728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160462)

Think about it. The results would obviously be rather useless if it was in your shirt pocket, but if it's in the console or on the seat, you don't need to do any fancy up-then-down-then-blah characterization. Just have the software monitor the vibrations from normal road noise and isolate spikes in the pattern. You don't have to know the pattern ahead of time. Let the software decide what the noise floor is based on the aggregate data it's seeing over X seconds, then watch for the abnormals. Even if you get the occasional person bumping it or picking it up or running over the bumps in the middle of the road, when the "home office" processing software does the mass data analysis, it will weed out the flyers and only identify the spikes that show up consistently. They don't have to know what kind of bump it is, just that there is a bump in the road that is bad enough to show up at a consistent rate and that would trigger an inspection to find out if it's expected (train tracks) or unexpected (pothole/buckling/etc.).

It doesn't have to be perfect: just good enough to identify the bad areas. Even if it was horrendously inaccurate, an automated system that was nearly free and got 30% right would be better than waiting on people to call in reports with erroneous or hard-to-understand data.

Re:Y'all are overcomplicating this... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160642)

That's great. But considering GPS is only accurate to about 100m, and mine frequently puts me several hundred meters to a few miles away, how would you match up the pothole logs to actual locations?

Technology problem (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160886)

First, this app has to be running in the background. iOS apps stay in the background for some time but iOS will eventually quit the application to free up resources for other apps. No one is going to voluntarily open this app before they leave for work just to check for potholes. It also has to use data on a limited data plan. Finally a background app has to reduce some battery life to report back home. I don't see this being all that ingenious as it sounds just because of iOS limitations and limitations in general of smartphones.

Of course you know the result (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35160938)

Suddenly the red-light district of any city is going to have the nicest streets, because of so much 'sudden vertical movement' being reported there day after day.

I can't imagine the street workers (on either side) are going to mind.

Mining and Holes go Together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35160954)

1. The pothole database will make it possible to track the user crossing his "pothole history" with the known "pothole geography" database, and extracting a correlation. Peasy.

2. Cessation of signal means the impact broke the phone. Or the car fell in the "pothole".

3. This will enable them to prosecute "pothole vigilantes", who fill up potholes on their own, when the state is passive.

Why not have robotic pothole-fillers ? Could be ... "interesting" :)

"Pothole-Minators" ?

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