mobile app

Transit Treasure: A Win-Win for Businesses and Travelers?

This week I stumbled upon Transit Treasure, a mobile-phone based application that enhances the buying power of citizens who ride public transit while promoting businesses along transit lines through targeted discounts and advertising.  They’re billing it as a “loyalty rewards program for public transit riders,” much like a frequent flyer program but with merchants offering rewards rather than the transit provider. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21540915 w=400&h=225]

How Transit Treasure Works from Dan Miller on Vimeo.

There are three main steps to making Transit Treasure work for you.  First, you ride and record your use of public transit.  This can happen through a mobile app or by filling out a form that is emailed to you weekly.  Thirty rides in one month earn you 100 “Transit Miles.”  Second, spend at least $30 with a participating merchant (these include online merchants like GAP, JC Penney, Office Depot, and Target.com, though Transit Treasure notes that they would like to expand to local merchants as soon as possible).  Once spending $30, your 100 Transit Miles are yours; any dollar above $30 spent is converted into an additional Transit Mile.  Third, at the end of the month, Transit Miles are converted to cash and paid to you through PayPal.

Transit Treasure is available in several U.S. cities, including large metro areas like Washington, DC, Miami, Chicago, and New York, but also in smaller cities like Raleigh and Nashville.

While I don’t think this app will encourage new ridership by itself, and while it will drive rewards dollars out of the local economy to online retailers, I think it has promise.  First, if they do as they say, brick-and-mortar local businesses could join the game, attracting transit riders who likely walk or bike directly by their business daily.  Imagine a “Transit Treasure” sticker in shop windows, much like Yelp stickers do today.  This small step could be what Transit Treasure needs to start attracting new riders to transit.  The more riding transit is publicized (in a positive light) and the more the private sector is motivated to do so, the more likely it is that people will start considering it as a viable option.

- Terra Curtis

 

Real Time Ride Sharing

I’ve been so caught up with the technologies being used by San Francisco lately (CycleTracks, SFPark) that I’ve perhaps missed some of the other innovative projects happening around the US. Seattle has recently launched go520 in collaboration with Avego, a software, hardware, and consulting company focused on improving transportation efficiency.  Avego partnered with Microsoft, which has an office outside of Seattle accessible by State Route 520 (hence the name go520), to develop the go520 app for the Windows Phone 7 (an iPhone app is also on the market).  Employees were all given Microsoft Phones and hundreds have already installed and started using the app for their commute.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdxd7EXY-Ak&w=440&h=280]

The pilot of go520 is funded by the State of Washington and includes 250 commuters with space for 750 passengers in their vehicles.  The app matches commuters with passengers along their route in real time.  It manages the whole process from pick-up to drop-off using GPS and automated mobile payments (there’s a financial incentive to participate as drivers split the cost of their commute with passengers they pick up; go520 also calculates that cost split automatically).

If it sounds interesting to you and you live in the Seattle area, you should try attending one of the Meetups to find out more.

- 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

 

Emergency Response App

I’ll warn you now, the video I’ve posted is not for the faint of heart.  The developers of Fire Department, an app that was recently embraced by the City of San Francisco, must have found a great short film maker to help promote it.  The video gave me goose bumps and reinvigorated my faith in humanity. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/19139695 w=400&h=225]

Fire Department App - PSA from Fire Department on Vimeo.

The app is fairly simple in nature, the idea behind it that heart attack victims need medical response fast – perhaps faster than an emergency vehicle can respond.  Anyone who is trained in CPR can download the app, which runs in the background passively tracking the phone’s location.  When a heart attack victim is reported to the centralized 911 service, a push notification is sent to Fire Department app users nearby.  CPR is delivered while the ambulance is on the way; every second matters.

Fire Department has been utilized by the San Ramon fire department and is now in development phase with the City of San Francisco.  Volunteers are currently mapping the locations of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).  The city hopes to have the service fully functional by the end of the year.

-Terra Curtis

 

Emergency Response App

I’ll warn you now, the video I’ve posted is not for the faint of heart.  The developers of Fire Department, an app that was recently embraced by the City of San Francisco, must have found a great short film maker to help promote it.  The video gave me goose bumps and reinvigorated my faith in humanity. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/19139695 w=400&h=225]

Fire Department App - PSA from Fire Department on Vimeo.

The app is fairly simple in nature, the idea behind it that heart attack victims need medical response fast – perhaps faster than an emergency vehicle can respond.  Anyone who is trained in CPR can download the app, which runs in the background passively tracking the phone’s location.  When a heart attack victim is reported to the centralized 911 service, a push notification is sent to Fire Department app users nearby.  CPR is delivered while the ambulance is on the way; every second matters.

Fire Department has been utilized by the San Ramon fire department and is now in development phase with the City of San Francisco.  Volunteers are currently mapping the locations of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs).  The city hopes to have the service fully functional by the end of the year.

-Terra Curtis