OurStreets Tips and FAQ

TIPS ON USING THE APP

OurStreets launched in mid-January 2020 for Android and iOS. There are some great features the app provides that make it flexible, safe, and fast.

For instance, we understand that, due to circumstances, you may not always be able to snap a photo, which is why everything in the OurStreets app is adjustable and/or optional. The app can also use a photo’s timestamp and location, this way users can snap a photo and submit when it’s safe and convenient.

The app also uses automatic license plate recognition software to read state and plate number instantly without user input. It’s not always perfect, so OurStreets zooms in on the photo, so you can easily determine if any edits are required.


Frequently Asked Questions about the OurStreets App

Should I be reporting infrastructure issues (ie crosswalk not painted) to OurStreets?

No. OurStreets is focused on momentary safety issues that would not be captured otherwise to help make our streets safer. If you have a public infrastructure concern, we recommend you report it to 311.

Should I still report these issues to 311?

We found that 311 does an excellent job in dealing with infrastructure issues (ie potholes, faded markings), but is not as effective as dealing with patterns of behavioral issues. We feel that advocates, with the data to back them up, are better prepared to create this change. With that said, you can still use the app to easily report the issue to 311 by sharing your report on twitter, and tagging @Pgh311.

What happens with the data that’s collected from the app?

It depends on the partnerships we have in place in your area. In Pittsburgh, the data becomes visible to BikePGH, as well as the League of American Bicyclists. They will be using the OurStreets data to write quarterly reports and help drive its general advocacy for safer streets with local and regional government. OurStreets endeavors to contract directly with municipalities to integrate app submissions in aggregate into enforcement and infrastructure planning frameworks. Once at scale (which is starting to happen), OurStreets data will likely be used by third parties like transportation planners, researchers and insurance companies — all in an effort to make our streets safer.

Does using the app violate any private policy laws?

As a private person, it is completely lawful to photograph and log dangerous driving activity on public streets.

What should I do if someone confronts me while using the app?

The best way to avoid confrontation and generally stay safe  is to quickly snap a photo and enter the submission into the app at your convenience. If you are confronted by a motorist or bystander, OurStreets recommends that you simply state that you’re part of a research project on street safety. Since no direct enforcement action will be taken based on a single submission, this is a truthful response.

Does OurStreets collect personally identifiable information from its users?

No. OurStreets does not collect any personal information like name or email address. Soon, OurStreets will be adding a settings menu for you to provide optional demographic information, which will be valuable for cities and researchers looking to use OurStreets data. In the future, OurStreets will also have optional accounts that will enable you to bring your submissions with you between phones and other premium features, but such an account will never be required.

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