You’re at a park in Seattle and the the restrooms are gross — like seriously, maybe-I’ll-just-use-the-woods gross. Now imagine this: you can report their unsanitary state by pressing a button on a kiosk outside the restrooms, which instantly sends an e-mail to the appropriate park authorities with your feedback.
Oh, and a tree is down, blocking one of the main hiking trails? You can report that, too. Graffiti? Ditto. Just having a fantastic day at the park? The internet-enabled park feedback kiosks, dreamed up by a team of developers this weekend, would be let you say nice things, too.
The idea was conceived in just 24 hours by a team competing at a hackathon last weekend funded by AT&T in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Department of Information Technology. The purpose of the competition was to come up with ideas for new apps that would help Seattle’s parks get more high-tech while improving citizens’ outdoor experiences.
Helping Hands won best overall app in the competition, which came with a $1,000 prize. The team was made up of developers Andy Fitts, Allison Borngesser, Brandon Charity, and Wale Ogundipe.
Another app, HelloParks, won a $500 prize for best parks and recreation app. They created an app that draws on open data about events at Seattle parks to help users know when to come out to the parks. The app also included a voice interface to help users navigate park events.
Other apps developed at the competition included SeattleTrails, which won recognition for being the most efficient app. SeattleTrails displays a map of Seattle, outlining the official trails located within the city’s parks nearest to the user, based on user location data. The trail outlines are color-coded based on length and difficulty of the terrain so people know which trails to take.
An honorable mention went to See Addled Parks, an app for seniors and other mobility-challenged people that gives an assessment of route steepness and elevation change, along with resting spots, and restrooms along the route to help make parks accessible for all.
The app competition was hosted at the downtown Surf Incubator. Developers were given 24 hours to design and build their mobile apps, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6 p.m. the next day. Participants stayed up all night tinkering with their apps, hoping to win the big dollar prizes.
AT&T funded the prizes and provided the developers with loaner hardware, including Arduino boards, Raspberry Pi kits, and a Grove Starter Kit Intel IoT edition.
Seattle Parks and Recreation offered up their superintendent, Jesus Aguirre, as competition judge and keynote speaker. Other city staff members were also present, helping participants find and understand parks-related open data and advising them about solutions that would make it easier for citizens to enjoy Seattle’s parks.