At the GeoDesign conference in San Diego we heard mention of folks at MIT using helium balloons with cameras attached to take aerial pictures. Thinking this was a fabulous idea I decided to find out more and see if this was a technique we could easily incorporate into our projects. The MIT connection turned out to be the MIT Center for Future Civic Media and their partnership with others to create Grassroots Mapping, a project and resource site to encourage citizens to use these balloons to generate maps of communities and their surrounding environment.
Few children’s books skillfully cover the subject of urban planning. Chicago's Wacker Manual for the Plan of Chicago (1911), David Macaulay’s lavishly illustrated City:A Story of Roman Planning and Construction (1974), and most recently, Planetizen's Where Things Are, From Near to Far (2008) are standouts.
In town meetings we use the Internet for a wide variety of uses, from photo walls to display images collected during our WalkShop tours, to brainstorming and voting with our AnyWare suite of tools, to collecting ideas using Google Docs or Google MyMaps at round tables. The latest WiFi cards are making connecting to the Internet possible in places where the Internet normally is not available.
Here in New York City, there is an incredibly popular burger stand in Madison Square Park called The Shake Shack. It's one of the touchpoints for Silicon Alley, and a great meet-up spot. The problem is that its usually insanely crowded, with an hour-long line stretching well across the park.
Not to be defeated, Silicon Alley geeks created the Shake Shack Twitter Bot, which serves as a sort of chat room for people to report wait times at the Shake Shack. It's a few dozen lines of code that leverages Web 2.0 technology to make the city smarter, more efficient, and more fun.