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Jay Casteel

We want a mobile app that uses GPS to warn me about dangerous intersections and potholes through headphones in New Orleans.

Because you can't be looking at your phone while biking, it would be great if there were audio queues that played when approaching a dangerous intersection, massive potholes, or even when traveling on narrow or precarious roads.

I've worked on a few similar initiatives, although they were more along the lines of Hackney Hear: vimeo.com/20463315

While these types of GPS audio triggered apps are entertaining, it would be great to use these same techniques to translate digital data into real world safety. I really hope the team supports this idea so we can make it happen.

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Downtown, New Orleans, LA

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GOOD Ideas for New Orleans
Rosalie Blythe
Alan Joseph Williams
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Jay Casteel

Absolutely. David Waggonner (heading Dutch Dialogues / co-founder of WB Arch) was actually the main person presenting at the Parallels discussion. It was a truly interesting forum and cross pollination of ideas. Maybe after the bike project is over we can talk to the others doing Good Ideas for New Orleans and see if anyone is interested in tackling this topic.

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Ross Peizer

I completely agree.

These are the conversations around water issues I am aware of:
dutchdialogues.com/

and this firm:
www.wbarchitects.com/research/...

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Jay Casteel

Unfortunately the street/pothole situation is much more deep seeded issue than just a matter of repaving. I wish it were that simple. The reason New Orleans streets are so bad is because of the way New Orleans deals with its ground water. Most water cities (for example Dutch cities) have canals, etc that keep the ground water at mostly level rates year round. Nola takes the water pump / levy approach, which essentially means the ground swells when it rains, then contracts when the pumps suck it dry. The streets are in a constant state of expanding and shrinking causing massive damage to roadways and sidewalks. Simply repaving won't resolve the issue. There was a really interesting AIA (American Institute of Architects) meeting 6 months ago at Parallels that delved deeply into this topic. Maybe we could make a different thread at some point that addresses ground water issues because I really do think that it is vital to eventually resolve this antiquated forced pump model.

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Ross Peizer

Don't get me wrong I think this is a cool idea but I would support a current map of road conditions you could look at either at home and/or on your phone before you start riding so in theory you wouldn't be distracted while cycling in the city since you could plan ahead.

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Ross Peizer

Listening to music means you're not going to be able to hear a cars horn or an emergency vehicle as well. I think even having headphones on gives the perception to vehicles that you are not paying full attention to your surroundings.

I feel like we need to target agencies to do a better job of repaving and not tearing the street right back up. I would support any ideas for improving the streets in NOLA.

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Alan Joseph Williams

Ross, is listening to music the problem, or do you think wearing headphones for alert purposes is also not safe?

Second point---we don't have the power to improve street & intersection quality independently. I like Jay's idea because its a way for me to make the most of the existing situation.

I think the desire for better streets could be expressed in an idea---how can we educate people about street improvements to advance the cause? Would we target agencies, or the public? Things to think about...

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Ross Peizer

Wearing headphones while bicycling is not something a safe cyclist should be doing especially while riding in an urban environment. Also, I say let's make the intersections and streets better instead of creating something that we will hopefully not need if we can make our intersections safer and streets smoother. Just my two cents.

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Posted May 15, 2012
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Alan Joseph Williams

Transport for NOLA and Bike Easy should be able to help secure data. That's super cool that you've gotten that accuracy even in a car. Awesome!

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Posted May 14, 2012
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Jay Casteel

GPS has really come a long way in the last year. There are two major functions on almost every smartphone that are available for gathering data:

1) navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition
2) navigator.geolocation.watchPosition

watchPosition is what would be needed, as it updates the current location constantly and is more accurate than getCurrentPosition. I've used it to get within 5 feet of my actual position (and I wasn't even storing all of the GPS decimals). Also I've built an accurate speedometer that works even in a car. A majority of smartphones also allow an enableHighAccuracy boolean to be passed (depends on the hardware), but this is incredibly accurate.

I'll look into the datasets you mentioned, thanks! I know one we talked about at the meeting was: nolacycle.noladata.org

One of the guys on our team (Joel) is a map expert, I'm sure he'll be a valuable resource.

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Posted May 14, 2012
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Alan Joseph Williams

Bike Easy has an incident map, and thus an incident data set. Combining that with some other auto incident data could be a good start. The New Orleans Regional Planning Commission should have some data like that.

How accurate is iPhone GPS these days? Could I be warned about a particularly dangerous intersection by the time I hit the one preceding it?

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Posted May 14, 2012
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