Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

2/19/2014

MapIt should have a mobile app

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

In cities, it's often the residents that know their neighborhoods the best. It's truth the Department of City Planning has acknowledged by soliciting feedback from residents themselves about the streets around them.


MapIt is a web-based app launched by city planning to address community concerns on zoning on a micro level. The launch is part of the agency's re:code LA, a move to update the city's 1946  zoning handbook with a web-based version that makes it easier to look up stuff and a unified downtown development code. Apparently the city's code was first an 84-page pamphlet that has now ballooned to 600+ pages of add-ons. 

While I love the idea of giving community input, MapIt could have been better with a mobile app version. How many times have you walked the streets only to spot something that you might want to change? Wouldn't that have been a great opportunity to write a quick report and send it to the right agency?

Some city apps have mobile components as UK's FixMyStreet, which make reporting pot holes, graffiti and fixing leaks on city streets that much easier. Users simply find the problem area on the map, enter details and then it sends the report to proper authorities.

Los Angeles also has a similar app called MyLA311, which uses the phones GPS to geotag a location. Based on ratings, the app works well, but the website doesn't provide resolution statistics such as FixMyStreets. I wonder, how many of these reports have been resolved? How fast are they attended to?

MapIt is a great start. The web-based app is at least clean and readable. It's also easy to sign up as a user, but if you are able to take the show on the road and capture your experience in real time, wouldn't that make it all the more satisfying? 

Here's me reporting one of my pet peeves while walking around Los Angeles residential neighborhoods. 
On MapIt's instruction page is a photo of the app on a mobile phone, which I take to mean it's available on your phone's browser too. But again, it's an additional step that can be trimmed away for faster, hassle-free reporting. 

In making tools for a community to use, the first rule is always to make it as easy as possible. The more you trim away the obstacles, the easier it'll be to convince more users. That was the power of Twitter's original super simple interface. That is still Instagram's photo-focused appeal. That's the kind of community tool I'd like to use.

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