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Techno-Tools for Promoting and Improving Walking

October 15, 2009

New York City Department of Transportation hosted the 10th International Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities 2009. The conference took place at New York University in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, from Wednesday October 7 to Friday October 9, 2009. The conference set new records for attendance at Walk21 with nearly 700 delegates over the four days and people from all continents of the globe and all professional walks of life.

Andy Hamilton, Vice President of America Walks and Southwest Regional Director of America Walks, reports on one Walk21 tech-savvy panel, which featured five software developers and their walking-related products.  Not all of them were ready for the market, but all seemed very promising.

UbiGreen – A phone-based activity monitoring system that allows you to establish a walking goal, senses your walking journeys via satellite, and then rewards you by building a detailed image as you complete milestones toward your goal.  For example, one image was a park-like setting with plants, birds, etc.  The image resets to blank after seven days.  Surprisingly effective as a motivator.

ClickFix – This package allows users to report infrastructure needs, such as broken or missing sidewalks, to the proper authorities, who are apprised ahead of time.  Other users can “vote” for your entry to give it higher priority.  The program link can be embedded into any site.

SCVNGR (“Scavenger”) – This is a platform to build a walking game, similar to a scavenger hunt, but more sophisticated, of course.  A great way to get people out walking.

Walkshed – Like WalkScore.com, Walkshed scores the walkability of a location, but allows customized weighting of walking destinations, depending on your needs or preferences.

Onebusaway.org –Allows a transit rider to call to find out when the next bus will arrive at their stop.

Google Transit was also mentioned as a transit trip planner that’s more intuitive than the usual confusing transit schedule.

For more information about this report on computer and phone applications, please contact Andy Hamilton, Vice President and Southwest Regional Director of America Walks, at 858-586-2641 or ahamilton(at)americawalks.fabapps.com.