iPhone

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

 

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

 

Blockboard -- Connecting Neighbors with iPhones

block logo San Francisco, California – The founders of Blockboard, a new iPhone app, mean to re-introduce the boundaries of physical geography to the internet.  By moving away from the anonymity of anywhere, anyone, they hope their “mobile bulletin board” will stimulate a lot of local conversation and action. Blockboard currently exists as an iPhone app only (with Android planned) that can be used by residents of San Francisco’s Mission District (with other neighborhoods planned) to post issues, thoughts, lost dogs, announcements, etc.  The app verifies your location through your phone’s geo-location.

Blockboard is a second iteration project initially called Block Chalk.  In this hyper-local application, the designers emphasize their learnings that people want to be known by their real names; they want to ask each other questions; and, they want their observations to be noticed – not just by city officials, but by their neighbors and friends.

Currently utilized by a few hundred people, Blockboard is aiming to become the Facebook of the Mission (or any other neighborhood), whereby neighbors are re-acquainted and “social networks” are more locally meaningful.  By integrating with 311 (non-emergency issue reporting) services, Blockboard is relevant at both the personal and societal scale.  If it takes off here (and it just might, given the number of iPhones I've seen around), you might see it in your neighborhood soon.

-Terra Curtis

 

Cycletracks

In November 2009, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) unveiled a new app for the iPhone and Android systems called Cycletracks. The app’s release signals a great step forward in municipal data collection and analysis by using mobile technology for social benefit.  By downloading and using the app, San Francisco’s cyclists can record and report their bicycle trips throughout the City.  Along with trip length and duration in time, the user can also report the purpose of the trip: social, exercise, work-related, shopping, errand, etc.

It’s useful enough on an individual basis (ever wanted to know just how far you bike around town?).  But perhaps more importantly, all this data gets aggregated anonymously and sent back to the SFCTA who uses it to inform its sophisticated SF-CHAMP modeling a travel forecasting tool.  SF-CHAMP is used by City planners to determine the effects of land use, development, and other local decisions on travel behavior.

Word is that the app can actually be used anywhere.  Portland, OR has already been in touch with the developers to try to tailor it to their needs.  Might your city be interested?

Government and Transit 2.0

The concept of Government 2.0 is buzzing around the conversations of freelance developers and public officials alike.  The idea is to create transparency of government and to facilitate better communication between decision makers and affected populations. It is such a popular topic at the moment that a simple search of Twitter reveals 45 people talking about it in the last hour alone.  The people tweeting include the CIO of the City of Edmonton, an internet radio broadcaster, a mobile app developer, an issue documenting web service called SeeClickFix, and Katie Jacobs Stanton, Barack Obama's appointee to the position of Director of Citizen Participation.  She worked at Google previously.

Government 2.0 so far has manifested itself in a variety of examples. Routsey is an iPhone app that allows users to access public bus routes and schedules in San Francisco.  It uses data from nextbus.com. BART Droid is a similar app for Google's Android system that connects users with public transit data for BART, the San Francisco Bay Area's regional train system.  It includes a zoom-able system map and fares and uses data from bart.gov.  The State of Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosts a developers' webpage with resources and links to available real-time and static transportation data.  Recently, the Department held a developers challenge to produce software of physical installations using the publicly-available data.  The results were impressive and saved the state tens of thousands of dollars.  A national example is SeeClickFix, which "matches issues and fixes by keyword and geography."

Government and Transit 2.0

The concept of Government 2.0 is buzzing around the conversations of freelance developers and public officials alike.  The idea is to create transparency of government and to facilitate better communication between decision makers and affected populations. It is such a popular topic at the moment that a simple search of Twitter reveals 45 people talking about it in the last hour alone.  The people tweeting include the CIO of the City of Edmonton, an internet radio broadcaster, a mobile app developer, an issue documenting web service called SeeClickFix, and Katie Jacobs Stanton, Barack Obama's appointee to the position of Director of Citizen Participation.  She worked at Google previously.

Government 2.0 so far has manifested itself in a variety of examples. Routsey is an iPhone app that allows users to access public bus routes and schedules in San Francisco.  It uses data from nextbus.com. BART Droid is a similar app for Google's Android system that connects users with public transit data for BART, the San Francisco Bay Area's regional train system.  It includes a zoom-able system map and fares and uses data from bart.gov.  The State of Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosts a developers' webpage with resources and links to available real-time and static transportation data.  Recently, the Department held a developers challenge to produce software of physical installations using the publicly-available data.  The results were impressive and saved the state tens of thousands of dollars.  A national example is SeeClickFix, which "matches issues and fixes by keyword and geography."