Boston’s new app creates union between technology and civil services

Though few remember it, iBurgh, a smartphone application that allowed users to document potholes on their way to work, was released last year. While it seemed popular at the time, with over 3,000 downloads within its first week of release, it appears now that the iBurgh has ceased to exist, leaving Pittsburgh residents to use the city’s outdated manual pothole reporting website.

We are saddened that this innovative application was only temporary; we would like to see our city embrace technology as a solution to its problems. The forward-thinking mindset that brought about the iBurgh app is a great way to address many of the complaints Pittsburgh residents seem to have.

We have but to look to the citizens of Boston, who have set a great example for such a groundbreaking new technology. Their idea builds on the goals of the iBurgh app. The city’s new app is slated to automatically detect and report Boston potholes. Every time a user’s car hits a bump, his or her phone will be jostled too. By using the built-in accelerometer, the phone will be able to detect any road anomalies and will be able to automatically transmit the GPS-determined location of the potholes to the city.

Boston’s new app improves upon all the downfalls of the iBurgh app, which included glitches that stopped the data from being reported to the city and the absence of a method for users to track their complaints.

Users who were previously unlikely to take the time to document and report every pothole to the city via the 311 system most likely found that the iBurgh app required less effort, but inferior results. However, the new app being developed in Boston will not demand user input, and it is much more likely to be successful.

We believe this new app is an innovative and (we hope) glitch-free step toward more efficient government services. Automatic transmission of civic problems is a great way for the city to gain input on where it needs to focus its attention and resources.

The city of Boston is setting a great example; we can only hope that this merging of technology and civic services will expand to other cities and to other programs and applications.