A few years ago we showed the work of the Urban Repair Squad, that would cycle around Toronto and spray notes on potholes and cracks in the streets. It was hard manual work but someone had to do it. Someone had to show the city that the major bike routes in town were a joke.
Now designer Florian Born has applied the latest in technology to the problem with Auto-Complain. It's an app that uses the accelerometer of your smart phone to detect and register the intensity of the bump when your bike rides over a pothole. It then uses the GPS of the phone to locate it and uploads this information to the website. You then can download the information as a PDF that you can send off to your local roads department. Because as Florian notes:
Every cyclist hates potholes in the streets. But complaining about them via the official way can be extremely time-consuming and annoying. Bureaucracy often leads to a dead end and involves a lot of paperwork. Auto-Complain offers the possibility to automate the act of demanding road renovations by using a simple app.
Perhaps in Berlin they don't have Open311.com, or SeeClickFix, but I would have thought that a direct digital upload might be better than a PDF. Perhaps that will come in the next iteration.
Then there is the wonderful optional extra: the spray gun connected to the bike. As you ride over the pothole it leaves a mark so that other cyclists can avoid the hole, and so those road crews can find it.
Oh, and there is a mount for your phone; you can download the design from the Makerbot Thingiverse and 3D print it out. Alas, while the prototype works and the website is up, you can't yet download the app and use it; Florian tells Ben Shiller of Fast Company that he is finishing school first. ""I want to let other people use it and let people mark potholes, because it's not just a Berlin thing. There are potholes all over the world."
Indeed there are.
And maybe someday his paint sprayer can do what the Urban Repair Squad did and print out words: