Start a National Pothole Hunt
Pothole reporting apps are nothing new. But they're generally local affairs, paid for by municipalities as a way of indicating which roads are in need of repair. That means they lack the user interface polish or the emphasis on positive-reinforcement that makes privately-funded apps so popular. Take Yelp, for example, which, for better or worse, has become the go-to service for restaurant recommendations. Granted, no one is going to wax poetic about the yawning craters dotting their commute, when crowdsourced data is properly collected and presented, crowds of users tend to send more data.
What we need is a truly slick, nationwide reporting app, with the potential to automatically detect some problems (as Boston's Street Bump app already does, using the phone's accelerometer and GPS connection), as well as ways of entering in specific data. Users could pick the three worst potholes they deal with on a regular basis, or indicate where the conditions are so bad, that drivers are invading other lanes to steer around widening depressions. Your average citizen isn't a software developer, obviously, but imagine an app that could merge pothole reports with exiting map services, suggesting alternate routes that avoid the biggest tire manglers.