Better Roads Staff
Boston is testing an app called Street Bump, which uses sensors embedded in mobile devices to identify vibrations that could indicate potholes or other road hazards. And all you have to do is turn it on before you drive.
Using machine-to-machine communication, the app combines the vibrations it detects with GPS data and transmits the information back to the city. A software algorithm then deciphers whether a pothole is present. If so, a Boston Public Works Department employee is alerted so a repair crew can be dispatched.
The Street Bump app was developed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, with Fabio Carrera, a local professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Although only in the pilot program stage, the idea is to not only speed up road repairs in Boston, but also to develop a real-time map of street conditions that can be accessed by local users and for other cities around the world that are using the app. It runs on Android devices, but an iPhone version is expected when the finalized version of app appears later this year.
For more details on the development and work of the Street Bump app go to www.govtech.com/wireless/Boston-Testing-App-for-Auto-Detecting-Potholes.html
The need for speed devours huge chunks of American cities and leaves the edges of the expressways worthless. Busy streets, for almost all of human history, created the greatest real estate value because they delivered customers and clients to the businesses operating there. This in turn cultivated the highest tax revenues in town, both from higher property taxes and from elevated sales taxes. But you can’t set up shop on the side of an expressway. How can cities afford to spend so much to create thoroughfares with no adjoining property value?
These are the words of Steve Mouzon on his OriginalGreen blog. He continues by identifying four basic problems created by the need for urban speed:
Increasing speed a little bit requires a big increase in the size of curves. At 20 miles per hour, any car can handle a curve with a 15 foot radius, so you’d think that tripling the speed would triple the radius, right? Wrong. At 60 miles per hour, curve radii are usually a few hundred feet, not the 45 feet you might guess
Faster roads need wider lanes. An 8 foot lane can handle 20 mile per hour traffic, but at highway speeds, you need 12 foot lanes.
Medians and shoulders
High-speed roads need wide medians and shoulders because a car can roll hundreds of feet beyond the point of collision or loss of control when it is traveling at highway speeds.
Number of lanes
It makes no sense to use all that land on either side for a two-lane highway, so high-speed thoroughfares usually have at least four lanes, often several more.
“How can we afford to pay so much and get so little?” says Mouzon. “Cities really do need to rethink their infrastructure priorities. We are beyond the point where we can spend enormous sums of money with little or no return.”
You’ll find the full blog, in the February archives of Mouzon’s blog (www.originalgreen.org).
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