A far-flung group of engineering students, from schools like M.I.T., Harvard and Birzeit University in the West Bank, have developed an app that turns a smartphone into a tool to track potholes and measure overall road quality.

No one needs an app to confirm hitting a pothole, but this project could improve life in many ways for drivers — and everyone else.The students’ test users have already come up with some surprising data (or not so surprising for those familiar with Boston-area streets): The roads around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are worse than the roads around Birzeit University.