The next time your car hits a pothole, a new technology could help you immediately tell someone who can do something about it.

Boston officials are testing a smartphone application called Street Bump that allows drivers to automatically report the road hazards to the city as soon as they hear that unfortunate “thud”, with their phones doing all the work.

The app’s developers say their work has already sparked interest from other cities in the US, Europe, Africa and elsewhere that are imagining other ways to harness the technology.

Before they even start their trip, drivers using Street Bump fire up the app, then set their smartphones either on the dashboard or in a cup holder. The app takes care of the rest, using the phone’s accelerometer – a motion-detector – to sense when a bump is hit. GPS records the location, and the phone transmits it to a remote servers hosted by Amazon’s web services division.

The system filters out things like manhole covers and speed bumps using a series of algorithms – including one that can tell if the initial motion is up over a speed bump, as opposed to down into a pothole. If at least three people hit a bump in the same spot, the system recognises it as a pothole.

Potholes are a real problem for Boston, where crews patch about 19 000 of them a year following the annual freeze-thaw cycle, according to Matthew Mayrl, the chief of staff in the city’s public works department. – Daily Mail