Pothole app a big hit at Digital Jam

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business Reporter

Sunday, July 08, 2012

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POTHOLE Positioning System (PPS) Jamaica, the grand prize winning innovation of the Digital Jam 2.0 Mobile App competition is aimed at reducing the number of road fatalities in Jamaica caused by potholes.


Recognising the problem of potholes in Jamaica, Team PPS built a mobile application (app) to inform motorists of roads with potholes.


"A lot of Jamaicans have BlackBerrys but don't know the power of the device," said Joel Dean, leader of Team PPS, a group of four students at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU).


The mobile app is also aimed at providing Government with detailed statistics of areas with high numbers of potholes on the island.


PPS has a driving mode feature that involves placing a smartphone — which has a sensor, enabled by the app to respond to jerks when a driver hits a pothole — on a vehicle's dashboard. Upon sensing a jerk, the driver is asked to confirm whether the disruption was caused by a pothole, after which, if affirmitive, the app records the location which is tracked by the smartphone's global positioning system (GPS).


Nicolas Brown, the lead developer of PPS told the Jamaica Observer that the app has two additional features which enable PPS users to record and track potholes.


Images of the road condition can be uploaded to the app, a review and a rating of the severity of the pothole given and the information stored in the PPS online database, which allows other app users to know which areas with potholes to avoid or prepare for when driving.


Against this background, the smartphone alerts motorists when vehicles are approaching potholes.


Brown said his team already has the functionality of the driving mode feature, but it is to be implemented at a later stage.


"The group plans to re-build the application and will include the final voice feature of the PPS," said Brown. The uploading images of potholes, viewing potholes and detecting potholes are the features that are currently implemented.


Adding that the PPS is not merely an idea, Dean said the group in collaboration with NCU has begun tests on the functionality of the mobile app. Currently, the PPS works with the BlackBerry, but when the app is re-built, it will be compatible with the iPhone and Android.


Team PPS was also the audience award winner and copped the second place development award of the Digital Jam 2.0.


Digital Jam 2.0 took place from June 28-30, 2012 in Jamaica. It saw the participation of about 2,000 young Jamaicans. It sought solutions to the problem of youth unemployment in Jamaica by providing job opportunities via the global virtual economy. Organisers also aimed to improve skills in Information Technology through the programme.



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