• Civic apps: Focus needed

    Gary mobile app 311 cityWant to catch a ride? There is an app for that. Want to order some food? There is an app for that. Want to improve your city? Surprisingly there is now an app for that if you live in northwest Indiana. Both the City of Gary and Crown Point now have mobile apps. The City of Crown Point app allows users to view city directories, sign up for newsletters, view event calendars, and most importantly create service requests.

    However, some of the features on the app seem to be broken and the service request feature is by far the most useful feature of this app. The City of Crown Point app allows users to upload photos of potholes, debris, or other things that need fixed around the city. The city will then process the request and make the appropriate fix for the situation. But even this feature could use some tweaking to make it more user-friendly.

    You don't have to look far to find a great example of a city service request app. The “Improve Detroit” app is a simple app that is very user friendly. Improve Detroit gives users the ability to user their current location for a service request and has a list of possible service requests. The app has a much more focused goal and executes it nicely. It also let’s users view issues that have been reported near to their location.

    I believe that making an app that is more focused on city service requests would help the usability of the Crown Point app. A focus on reporting problems could help the city more efficiently tackle civic problems. The generation coming up is one that doesn’t even want to call to get a pizza, so the chances of them calling 311 to report a problem seems pretty slim. I think that having a more user friendly 311 app could make a great difference for millennial’s view of cities in the region. It is encouraging to see that cities like Crown Point and the City of Gary at the forefront of the development of these kinds of civic apps.

    NWI Civic Apps

    @Slippy_Jake talks #nwIndiana #civic #apps in this #video segmenthttp://bit.ly/1ZByhVa#tech #mobile #society

    Posted by Duneland Innovators on Sunday, December 27, 2015
  • Contiguous Digital Life

    Last week Apple's staged their September event to announce the new iPhones and iPads that are available. The company also announced a refresh of the Apple TV set top box. While the updates to the software and hardware are notable one thing that seems to have been neglected during the event was HomeKit, the underlying software solution that will tie together our domestic lives.

    Why is this interesting to those of us living in northwest Indiana?

    Because, as we've written about on the site in the past, home automation is becoming a bigger topic in our lives. Security, HVAC, kitchens and other functionality-specific devices are becoming integrated into the Internet of things. Like the unseeable force, this ubiquitous layer of technology has nearly engulfed nearly every facet of our post-modern existence.

    Can you name a service or sector of our day that hasn't been newly informed by tech development in the last 10 years?

    However, having a comprehensive solution that is user friendly is something that people are looking for but cannot yet expect. Unfortunately, the software is not yet cognizant enough to operate without a heavy human hand capable of tweaking the algorithm from time to time to optimize the output. We don't yet live in a world that knows when you're home watching Netflix alone or when you have company (and can make recommendations based on who is present in the group). Imagine setting-relevant curation of content.

    This opportunity for refined shared experiences means means better results out of dashboards at home with family in Schererville or at the office with coworkers up in Chicago. The contiguous mesh of wireless networks buzzing through the air is poised to allow for a consistent and constant mobile experience no matter where we go.

    Many companies are working on artificial intelligence assistant-like technologies to help bridge meatspace with the digital worlds that are increasingly permeating our daily regimens. Right now it seems likely that AI will first stand for "augmented intelligence" (with much of the augmenting coming from the human side of the relationship) to help our technology hone in on the customized experiences we are growing to assume are in place.

    It looks like it might still be a while before all the heavy-lifting necessary for the semantic experience researchers like Tim Berners-Lee and others have philosophized about. There is so much contextual data that needs to be input and related before this is a reality. The value is immense but the appreciation will be reliant on an experience that doesn't turn people off to the onboarding process. In the meantime, we'll just have to appreciate a lifestyle that is more akin to what we watch on network sitcoms than what we see in near-future sci-fi.