From an idea to a product in 48 hours… It’s pretty rare, at least in my opinion, where the stars align, an idea presents itself and there is the means to turn that idea into a product all within a 48 hour period over a weekend, but this is just what “The Carlin Report” is.
“The Carlin Report” was developed in collaboration between members of Software Niagara (Nick Kenyeres and Rich Ayotte) and Geospatial Niagara (Darren Platakis) for the Node Knockout competition, a 48 hour hackathon where teams and individuals code as if their lives depended on it to create an application of some sort in an effort to win a variety of prizes. The competition is sponsored by Node.js a “platform…for easily building fast, scalable network applications.”
Now it’s not to say that I’ve never appreciated computer programmers or software developers before, I have the utmost respect. But I have to say, I now have a WHOLE NEW appreciation. They are able to get out what is in the head of a geographer and bring it to life. And that is a good thing, because Geospatial Niagara has a lot of ideas!
The sky is the limit when you have collaboration between disciplines and “The Carlin Report” is a prime example of geography and software development coming together to create an application that not only engages the public in the collection of incredibly important data, it is also a means to illustrate the importance of Geography and Programming. I’m positive there are plenty more Geospatial collaborations to come which will provide a positive economic impact to Niagara and give our youth good jobs.
So what is “The Carlin Report”? With increased participation in various modes of active transportation comes an increase in instances of near hits. Active transportation is defined as any method of human powered transportation and provides many benefits to the citizens of a community. These include the obvious health benefits of being physically active as well as environmental benefits in the reduction of harmful emissions, the social benefits of increased social interaction between citizens, economic benefits of money savings on gas or parking fees and the reduced congestion on a cities roads.
“The Carlin Report” combines citizen participatory engagement with volunteered geographic information (VGI) to collect data on near hits between walkers, runners and cyclists with motorized vehicles. This application will engage citizens in reporting these incidents and make the data available to a variety of stakeholders.
Who can benefit from the data that is collected with “The Carlin Report”?
Organizations: Stakeholder groups such as community walking, running or cycling groups, can use the collected data to emphasize awareness campaigns towards educating the public to be aware of active transportation users and to provide backing statistics in presentations to municipal councils of the need for infrastructure alterations.
Municipal/regional transportation departments: Knowing where there are hot spots of near hits allow planners to investigate the possible reasons. This may lead to the need for increased signage or possible road redesign or marking.
City planners: data allows planners the ability to promote the need for complete streets.
Regional police departments: currently these incidents are not recorded but having this data in addition to their recorded data provides information on where to increase presence during particularly busy times of day for the protection of citizens.
Other active transportation users: Knowing where there are increased rates of near hits allows other active transportation users the ability to plan their routes and times of travel to avoid these areas or be more cautious when traveling through them.
How does it work?
Please note…. currently you must allow the application to use your current location. The application will show you near-hit reports nearby your current location. Works best in the Google Chrome browser.
1. User goes to “The Carlin Report” website via smartphone or laptop/computer.
2. User clicks “Report a near hit”.
3. A series of icons appears – one each for walking, running and cycling and the user chooses the appropriate icon.
4. User is then presented with a series of weather condition icons and chooses the most appropriate condition.
5. Finally, user is presented with a series of time icons – morning, afternoon, evening and night and chooses the most appropriate.
6. User enters the nearest address to the location of the near-hit or can leave blank in order to use the current location of the user and clicks “File Report”.
7. The map is updated with the location of the near hit.
Future plans include heat map visualization, ability to filter location, and ability to manually set location. At this time, the application requires that the user grant permission to access their location in order for the application to function properly. Future plans also include the ability for users to adjust the location of incidents after filing a report; and to enter their email to receive email notifications when other users report incidents nearby their reported incident.
What was software/programming languages were utilized in creating “The Carlin Report”?
Node.js, MongoDB, Mongoose ODM, Express.js, Geocoder, Grunt, Leaflet, Leaflet Awesome Markers, Open Cycle Map, Heatmap.js, Font Awesome, Map Icons, Meteocons, Magnific Popup, and Modernizr.
Why The Carlin Report?
The name of the application comes from a stand-up routine from famous comedian George Carlin where he espouses…
Until next time!