A software challenge in keeping with New York City’s drive to become more transparent, accessible, and accountable.
That’s all good, right?
The prizes include thousands of dollars and an invitation to dinner with Mayor Bloomberg.
One of the apps Wired reports on is RentSleuth:
RentSleuth uses the city’s street condition data to track crime, potholes, graffiti, trash, sewer complaints, subway coverage, bedbug reports and so on. (Yes, New York has a bedbug problem. Bigtime.)
Of course, that bed bug data is fairly limited, as noted here.
Switching the “Show bed bugs” button on RentSleuth to “on” shows a bed bug icon in various locales, but not everywhere.
And let’s get real: bed bugs are in every neighborhood in NYC. The city needs to find better ways of tracking and sharing such information with residents, in the interests of transparency, accountability, and accessibility.
Another app sure may make your bed bug 311 report more interesting, for those of you who can get a camera photo shot of your bed bugs:
Snap311 lets you report a problem to the city’s 311 service (like 911 for non-emergency situations) by snapping a shot with your cameraphone, rather than using the phone part of your phone to call 311.
Although it’s pretty hard to get a shot of bed bugs (and even moreso on a camera phone with fewer megapixels), this seems like a useful app for other purposes.
The BigApps contest is a joint initiative of joint initiative of New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, and encourages people to create software which makes use of the NYC Data Mine.
Technology gives us a lot of possibilities, but to get things off the ground, you need the data.
Update (12/15): in our comments below, RentSleuth creator Jeff Refesz clarifies that the RentSleuth bed bug information comes from
. . . a number of sources outside of the NYC data mine, including the Bed Bug Registry.
Even better, it’s a mashup of Craigslist apartments for rent, and bed bug reports:
What we have done is not only mapped them, but made them automatically appear next to all of the latest craigslist postings. The idea was that you can use RentSleuth as your craigslist search, and it will tell you if there are bedbugs in the apartment before you even check out the listing.
I love the mashup idea!
Unfortunately, the data is still rather limited, as I note in the comments; many people do not know the Bed Bug Registry exists, or simply choose not to list their infestations there. I hope in future NYC will provide much better data (though it would impossible to have perfectly comprehensive data). And in the meantime, I encourage people to consider posting their infestations to the Bed Bug Registry — and to also note when the problem is solved.
This app is a really neat idea, though.
I wish Jeff luck with his application in the BestApp competition, and beyond!