InnoCentive and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino Announce Winners in Challenge to Convert Big Data into Pothole Relief

By Wazoku

Posted on

InnoCentive is now part of Wazoku

Waltham, Mass. – July 20, 2012 – InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in crowdsourcing, open innovation, and prize competitions, and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the successful conclusion of a Challenge to predict pothole locations using data collected from a smart phone application called Street Bump. The solution is expected to help the City respond to potholes more quickly than ever before, resulting in improved service to citizens, reduced environmental impact of city repair crews scouting for potholes and increased engagement from civic-minded constituents. The Street Bump app is currently available for free download in the Apple App store.

“The goal of the Street Bump app is to give our residents a tool to make Boston’s roads even better, and I want to thank all who participated for bringing this technological innovation to life,” Mayor Menino said. “Simply by driving our streets and running this app, our Public Works Department will be getting information it can use to both dispatch repair crews and prepare long-term capital plans.”

When placed in a moving car, the Street Bump application, developed by the City of Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, uses a phone’s accelerometer to detect bumps in the road. The app sends a signal to a database when the car hits a bump. However, in its original incarnation, all bumps were treated equally by the app – Street Bump could not differentiate between a pothole, a manhole or other irregularity.

So, with funding from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the City of Boston launched an InnoCentive Challenge to convert the data collected into actionable information. Using acceleration and position information collected by the Street Bump app running on volunteers’ smart phones, the Challenge sought an algorithm that could accurately identify the location and severity of potholes, while weeding out other road anomalies, such as bridge surfaces and manhole covers.

More than 700 Solvers participated in the Challenge and 19 solutions were submitted. Ultimately, three solutions were awarded, including submissions by Edward Aboufadel, a professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University, and members of Sprout & Co., a non-profit organization based in Somerville, Mass. (a short video of this team in action is currently available on YouTube). The final algorithm, developed using elements of all three winning solutions, will be released publicly for use by other cities. The Mayor’s office has already received hundreds of requests for more information from cities in Africa, Australia, Europe and across the United States.


“By demonstrating its commitment to resolving issues that are top of mind for residents through open innovation and crowdsourcing, the City of Boston has provided a compelling example of private-public partnerships and how governments will deliver services in the future,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. “We’re excited to see other governments and public sector agencies adopt this approach and realize similar benefits for their constituents.”


About InnoCentive

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, network of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Eli Lilly & Company, Life Technologies, NASA, Nature Publishing Group, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster, more cost effectively, and with less risk than ever before. For more information, visit or call 1-855-CROWDNOW.



Media Contacts


Steve Bonadio
InnoCentive, Inc.

Marisa Borgasano
Schwartz MSL Boston for InnoCentive

Press Office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino


By Wazoku

Wazoku is an innovation SaaS business that helps some of the world’s biggest organizations to innovate at scale. Whether it’s making the most of your employee's ideas, identifying new partners to collaborate with, or exploring the boundless potential of open innovation – or all three! – Wazoku makes innovation happen.