Absolutely. David Waggonner (heading Dutch Dialogues / co-founder of WB Arch) was actually the main person presenting at the Parallels discussion. It was a truly interesting forum and cross pollination of ideas. Maybe after the bike project is over we can talk to the others doing Good Ideas for New Orleans and see if anyone is interested in tackling this topic.
Unfortunately the street/pothole situation is much more deep seeded issue than just a matter of repaving. I wish it were that simple. The reason New Orleans streets are so bad is because of the way New Orleans deals with its ground water. Most water cities (for example Dutch cities) have canals, etc that keep the ground water at mostly level rates year round. Nola takes the water pump / levy approach, which essentially means the ground swells when it rains, then contracts when the pumps suck it dry. The streets are in a constant state of expanding and shrinking causing massive damage to roadways and sidewalks. Simply repaving won't resolve the issue. There was a really interesting AIA (American Institute of Architects) meeting 6 months ago at Parallels that delved deeply into this topic. Maybe we could make a different thread at some point that addresses ground water issues because I really do think that it is vital to eventually resolve this antiquated forced pump model.
I love this idea, growing up in Holland allowed me to see this initiative in action and I took advantage of it often. While I'm sure there are many hurdles and stumbling points, I feel like there are probably many people willing to share knowledge from their experience of implementing this idea.
Also there seem to be countless ways of going about making this happen. With everything from full on automated checkout stations to a simple honor system, I think that depending on the budget there are ways of accomplishing this concept.
However, I do feel we would need to pursue some external funding regardless of the chosen implementation simply because buying even a small fleet of bikes falls outside our current $500 budget. Just something to consider.... maybe solved with advertising on the bikes? We could cross that bridge when we get there though.
GPS has really come a long way in the last year. There are two major functions on almost every smartphone that are available for gathering data:
watchPosition is what would be needed, as it updates the current location constantly and is more accurate than getCurrentPosition. I've used it to get within 5 feet of my actual position (and I wasn't even storing all of the GPS decimals). Also I've built an accurate speedometer that works even in a car. A majority of smartphones also allow an enableHighAccuracy boolean to be passed (depends on the hardware), but this is incredibly accurate.
I'll look into the datasets you mentioned, thanks! I know one we talked about at the meeting was: nolacycle.noladata.org
One of the guys on our team (Joel) is a map expert, I'm sure he'll be a valuable resource.