Preparing the Populace, 2.0

Despite my enthusiasm for this use case, municipal mobile apps aren’t only good for data collection – they can also be used for information dissemination.  Such is the purpose of the Bay Bridge Explorer app, a driving simulator for iPhone and iPad developed in partnership with a coalition of government agencies including Caltrans, the Bay Area Toll Authority, and the California Transportation Commission.Bay Bridge app The San Francisco – Oakland Bridge is currently undergoing major construction for seismic retrofits.  The project, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2013, involves several temporary or sectional changes to the traffic pattern before its completion.  Caltrans learned the hard way when one of the early changes, the infamous s-curve, led to the death of a truck driver who entered the curve 10 mph faster than he should have.  Then, they responded by installing more and brighter signage.

Now, they’re acting preventatively by providing drivers the opportunity to test the bridge’s new alignment before actually encountering it from behind the wheel.   Users of the Bay Bridge Explorer app are able to simulate the driving experience and also see very detailed birds-eye view visualizations of the new structure.

So far the app has received some bad reviews because it is so detailed and causing systems to crash.  But, bugs are being worked out, and I’m hopeful that it can help prepare at least some for the new pattern they should expect.

- Terra Curtis