The iPhone Set to Do Its Civic Duty With iBurgh

iburgh_screenAsk not what your city can do for you; ask what your iPhone can do for your city. Starting today, Pittsburgh became the first U.S. city with its very own iPhone application, iBurgh (free, iTunes link), which allows Steel City residents to use their devices to snap pictures of civic embarrassments and hazards and upload them directly to municipal public administration.

Snapshots go direct to city council, where they will likely face the usual red tape, but it’s still a step in the right direction. The free app, developed by Carnegie Mellon University professor Priya Narasimhan, is designed to be used by Pittsburgh residents who come across things like potholes, broken traffic lights and other trouble areas to notify those in a position to do something about the problems.

Narasimhan previously developed another Pittsburgh-centric app for the iPhone with YinzCam that allows Penguins fans to watch live or replay video feeds of the hockey action right from their seats at Mellon Arena. But it only works within the stadium itself. iBurgh is similarly designed to work within a predefined area, but instead of just a stadium, this time it’s an entire city.

iBurgh has yet to be tested in real-life situations, but if used as intended, could revolutionize the way major urban centers respond to civic maintenance calls, especially since it bypasses the “call” part altogether. Users need only snap a pic, which, thanks to the iPhone’s various data capture tools, will be sent complete with geolocation data (assuming you grant the app access, of course), and time- and date-stamp information.