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June 11, 2015

How Panama City's tweeting potholes are trolling its government into action

By City Monitor Staff

Last week, we reported on a nice, but, we imagine, largely ineffectual pothole protes: residents around the world have been planting flowers in potholes in order to passive aggressively highlight their existence. The catch, though, is that councils probably don’t see much to fix in a pothole which is filled with soil, and therefore far less lethal, and might even think the flowers are an improvement.

So residents of Panama City have come up with a more direct line of attack. Small devices marked with hashtags have been planed in potholes across the central American capital, fitted with pressure and motion sensors. Whenever a car drives over the pothole, these jump into action and send a tweet directly to the city’s Ministry of Public Works twitter account. It’s probably the best use for a Twitter bot we’ve ever come across.  

Recent tweets from the account, El Hueco Twittero (“The Tweeting Pothole”), include “Repair the streets!” and “I’m tired of being blamed every time a car crash happens when drivers try to keep away from me”. You can see more in the video below:

The devices are the work of P4 Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising agency. Pinky Mon, vice president of strategic planning at the agency, told Fast Company magazine that the city began to take notice as the tweets rolled in: “Serious cases have been attended in less than 24 hours.” Success. 


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