Think your town has a pothole problem? Just wait till you see the streets of Panama City, Panama. Despite the fact that the city has experienced a huge amount of growth in the past few years and is developing at a breakneck pace, many of its older roadways have been neglected for years. Potholes are now so bad that it’s become a running joke among the city’s residents.
To remedy the problem, one of the city’s most popular news organizations, Telemetro Reporta, teamed up with local creative agency P4 Ogilvy & Mather to build a solution — an electronic device that sends a message directly to public officials whenever somebody hits a pothole.
The Tweeting Pothole, as its called, consists of two parts: a durable, puck-shaped pressure sensor placed inside a pothole, and a small wireless network module placed nearby. When the pressure sensor is activated (by a car running it over), it sends a signal to the network module, which automatically sends a tweet to the Panama City Ministry of Public Works and requests that the pothole be fixed.
Telemetro Reporta placed a number of these devices in potholes located along some of the city’s busiest roadways, and, as you can expect, the Twitter feed of the city’s public works department was suddenly inundated with a flood of automated tweets. After a few days, the stunt had caused so much of a ruckus that the Minister of Public Works himself decided to make an appearance on Telemetro’s evening news broadcast to discuss the problem.
Pretty brilliant, right? Filling potholes with sensors might not be as cheap as spray painting dicks around them, but it’s arguably just as effective when it comes to getting the attention of public officials, and forcing them to address the issue.
Now if only we could figure out a way to tweet the cops whenever somebody leaves behind dog crap in the park!