Waze, the free mobile app that offers real-time maps and traffic info sourced directly from its community of drivers. In addition to providing drivers turn-by-turn navigation information, the app allows users to quickly and easily report road incidents like traffic jams or accidents. The community-powered app can help drivers planning a trip alter their route based on traffic problems in the area. In a recent study, the impact of Waze and similar applications like Roadify were evaluated in San Jose, California by the New Cities Foundation:
When drivers in San Jose, California were able to share travel information via mobile apps connected to customized social networks, they reached their destinations faster and were less stressed about arriving there.
Crowdsourced reporting platforms are changing the top-down nature of how news is gathered and disseminated by placing reporting tools in the hands of citizens, allowing any individual to instantly broadcast about the situation around them. A good example of hyperlocal reporting is the website SeeClickFix which allows citizens to enter their city zip code, and report any sort of neighborhood problem using a map. Complaints amassed at the same point indicate a trouble spot and serve as an alert for fellow city residents, news outlets and local governments. A number of public works departments and news offices around the country have made the SeeClickFix widget a part of their websites.
Rachel Sterne is Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, and oversees programs that encourage a two way dialogue between city officials and residents. She offered this comment on how reporting on issues in real-time can improve the responsiveness of city agencies:
What that means is that social is increasingly becoming an opportunity for government employees to have a direct relationship with constituents in a way that’s faster and more responsive than on static web site. It really reflects how differently people are consuming content and information.
Check out this video below from Waze, showing an entire day of traffic in Rome mapped on a digital timeline:
Winka Dubbeldam, celebrated architect and principal of Archi-Tectonics, recently lent her expertise to a crowdsourced plan to revitalize Bogota, Colombia called MyIdealCity. She believes that the future of urban planning is in hyperlocal reporting:
A better sense of community will be the result of taking active participation in making ones surroundings safe. Social awareness will also help sponsor a tighter community sense, and immediately make the city a better safer place to live, work and play.
Often using mobile phone technology, hyperlocal reporting systems not only provide real-time, location specific data, but also boost civic engagement by establishing direct channels of communication from the ground up, while helping to ensure community well-being by rapidly documenting potentially harmful incidents.