One of the major inventions that changed the life in cities was the railway. Another important revolution was the car. They changed the size of the cities, their form. They influenced the mindsets of people too.
Today, we live in a world dominated by ICT and I could definitely say that if something is influencing the way we live, the way we move, the way we make our choices that would be our smartphone.
In 2012, the results of a study showed that the smartphones users outnumbered the basic phones users. Every day we rely more and more in our smartphones and on the apps we are using. Entering the century of cities, there are a lot of evidences that mobile apps can improve cities (and cities can benefit from apps too), can engage citizens and certainly they can make life easier and safer! The creators of the competition AppMyCity are “convinced that mobile apps can make good cities great”. The competition is dedicated to reveal new fresh apps which concerns almost everything and everyone: cycling, parking, measuring CO2, accessibility, public spaces, sharing, etc.
Some of the urban apps that make everyday life in cities more appealing concern places, transport, parking and others concern the sharing economy:
Foursquare is the app that combines networking with friends and a recommendation engine for places. Personally I find it very useful when you visit a new city and you want some advices on where to eat, where to have a drink, where to have a coffee. In the same category with Foursquare I would put Locish, which is advertised with the eye-catching phrase: “Ask like-minded people for new places to eat, drink and have fun”. Also I really like the social local discovery provided by Findery, where you can find and leave notes all over the world!
RideScout: RideScout collects all the transport services in a single interface. You type your origin and destination and all the travel options — transit, taxi, car-share, cycling, walking, driving — appear in a list that can be sorted by mode, cost, or travel time. Unfortunately it is only developed in the US! Taxibeat is the new shinny face of taxis. There are the taxis “as they should be”. You enter you location and you can choose your taxi driver based on your specific needs, rather than have someone randomly assigned to you.
Even if I am not very keen on parking apps because they are the result of excessive car use, I can’t deny that Blue Parking, Parqueate and MonkeyParking have found innovative ways to find parking spots!
I could go on and on about more and more apps that could be used for all short of activities and I don’t even know the majority of the apps that pop up almost every day.
The questions that come in mind concern the way all this apps can affect and improve the future cities. Can we use this incredible big number of data that derives from “mapping people’s choices”? Can we change the cities to our benefits based on them? Do we want to use all this data?