A clever high-tech campaign is helping to improve Panama City’s roads and generating international headlines.

The idea is actually very simple. Sensors were placed in potholes around the city. Every time the sensor is activated a tweet is automatically sent, addressed to the Ministry of Public Works. Every tire crunching into a hole spawns a clever tweet for all the world to see.

One example of a pothole tweet: “I feel terrible. I just caused tire damage to an old lady’s car.” Another tweet: “At least tell me what I need and I’ll cover myself.”

Conceived by the daily news show Telemetro Reporta and advertising agency P4 Ogilvy & Mather, on one level, the campaign is a good joke, making fun of an annoying issue in Panama City. Let’s face it, Panama City is a fast-growing city and it is has all the problems facing a fasting growing city – including potholes.


But the campaign is actually having an impact. The minister went on the news program to answer questions about the pothole issues. And there are reports that the city has been moving to fill in the potholes and repair the streets.

The Twitter assault has also generated coverage around the world, spotlighting the new approach to tackling an issue shared in most big cities.

“There are already apps that can notify local authorities about potholes, but bothering them on social media is the ultimate tech nag,” Slate noted.

Sure, it’s frustrating that a civic issue is drawing so much attention to Panama City, when there are so many other great things happening here. But the project is also showing that Panama City is home to some very talented people, who know how to use technology to spur change. And if they can get some potholes filled, more power to them.

Here’s the site for the project: http://elhuecotwitero.com/

And here’s a video produced for the project:

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