Derek’s ideas for a class smartphone app

19 Jul

BusTalk

I ride the bus to work. I also ride it home. Several times the bus has either been late (30 minutes is a LONG time) or not stopped for me while I was waiting at the stop. Incredibly frustrated, I would have to look up the customer service number on the kiosk and wait on average 15 minutes to file a simple complaint. Wouldn’t it be much more convenient if I could tap the BusTalk app and use my geo-location to file a quick complaint or customer service tip? The transit system needs to know what is happening in the field, and this app would allow them to gather more data, and more accurate data, based on time-sensitive information provided by customers on the spot. The data collected could be used to increase efficiency, manage the bus drivers and watch for patterns that may or may not be causing trouble.

In addition to the use case scenario described above, the BusTalk app could be used to report on missed stops, rude bus drivers who treat riders unfairly (I see it all the time) and host of other issues. Of course, it could also be used to provide compliment about a particular bus driver, or express gratitude for a new route change. This, too, is critical information for the transit system to have and should be made easier for riders to submit. I’ve had good/bad things to say about bus drivers but either forgot or decided not to because I had to go online to do so or wait on the phone for 15 minutes. A smartphone app would be a welcome change.

Obviously, the King County Metro Transit system would be a good sponsor for the BusTalk app. There are currently no iPhone applications allow for this task to be completed. There are many apps that show Seattle bus routes, maps and vehicle locations. But nothing taps directly into the system’s communications stream. There is definitely an opportunity to fill this void. I searched the App Store for “bus complaints” and came up with two—Feedback.com and Pissed Consumer, but neither are transit-specific. They simply allow for disgruntled people to levy complaints (or compliments, I guess) against local business. It’s basically Yelp in a different party dress. BusTalk can and should happen. Seattle needs it.

FreshFinder

I’m not real big into farmer’s markets, but, man, are they popular. In this city especially, farmer’s markets are the lifeblood of the sustainability movement. My mom, for example, lives on Bainbridge Island and refuses to buy anything at a store she could otherwise buy at a farmer’s market. Cereal, toilet paper, pencils—these are purchases she makes from Safeway. But fruit, vegetables, pasta and potpourri—this is the role of the local farmer’s market. Well, what if you’re new to an area? What if you don’t know where the farmer’s market is or how late it’s open? What if  you’re a farmer’s market fiend and just want to check out some other neighborhood’s selection? FreshFinder can provide you with all of these answers, and more.

Imagine a smartphone app that used geo-location to show you the nearest farmer’s market, which you could drill down to find detailed information about times, dates, vendors, etc. Imagine this app stretched across the Puget Sound region and allowed for user reviews, comments, suggestions and tips? FreshFinder is an app that can sell in Seattle, no question about it. SeattleFamersMarkets.org is a website operated by Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, a community-based nonprofit that is dedicated to supporting small farms and farming families. This is the right sponsor for FreshFinder, as it is already providing a fantastic round-up of events, market schedules, seasonal selections, news and more.

Searches of the App Store for “Seattle farmers markets” and “Seattle farmers” yielded no results, so there is another opportunity awaiting some lucky developer. Farmers Markets is a geo-specific iPhone app that targets the markets nearest to you, but that’s about all it does. There is very little depth to the app. I did see a few other farmer’s market locators, but none in the Seattle area. California Farmers’ Market Finder was the best of the bunch, but even it failed to provide drill-down options for what’s available at the market. It simply pointed you in the direction of the nearest markets. I does allow you to e-mail the market and visit the website, which are nice touches. But I wouldn’t know where to go if I wanted fresh rhubarb—and that’s the value of the FreshFinder app.

CitySounds

I love concerts. Everything about them makes me happy. My first concert was in fifth grade—I made my mom take me to see M.C. Hammer at the Tacoma Dome and it was probably the worst night of her life. I’ve since seen the Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Snoop Dogg and about 200 more. One of the best parts about going to the concert is hearing new music. Be it from the artist I’m there to see or the opening band that just so happens to rock my socks off. The city of Seattle is a legendary hub for live music, so let’s create an app that taps into that vibe. CitySounds is an app for local music lovers. Who’s playing tonight? What’s the cover charge? Is there an opening band? And the most important question of all—what time does the headliner take the stage? With the CitySound app, music lovers could either glean more information about their upcoming show, or find a place to catch a new act. Either way, they’re staying on top of what’s happening in Seattle.

I can see this app allowing users to search by location, venue, genre, ticket prices and a host of other options. They’ll be able to share photos, post reviews, link through to the band’s website or YouTube channel. Added features could include a connection to Pandora and a calendar of events past and present. One of the best things about concert-going is talking about it afterwards. Don’t delete the show from the calendar as soon as it’s over. Instead, keep people talking and sharing experiences, all the while engaging with the CitySound brand. The Seattle Weekly is a logical sponsor for this and could likely generate some serious ad revenue from doing so. Other potential sponsors include Bumbershoot, the EMP, CitySearch and the Seattle Times.

The front page of App Store search results lists nothing but radio stations and music festivals such as Sasquatch. Serendipity seems like a similar app, but it also houses events and is not fully fleshed out yet. My opinion is that a music-specific app would blow this app out of the water. Searches for “Seattle shows” yields nothing while “Seattle concerts” gives one ticket-buying app.

Again, we’ve identified a market for this particular app. Seattle is a music city that attracts national attention along with a deep local scene. CitySound would provide music fans in our region a one-stop shop for showtimes, sharing and so much more. Rock ‘n Roll has never been this much fun. Well, yes it has but this is still a wicked app idea!

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One Response to “Derek’s ideas for a class smartphone app”

  1. Kathy E. Gill 19 July 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Nice brainstorming, Derek! It appears that this theme does not like pasting from whatever was your source … no “double space” between paragraphs. This code (which prefaces each paragraph line) —

    — is the culprit. I did a search-and-replace to get the double-spaces, which are needed for readability.

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