Walkable Urban Design Tool
Do you know an unwalkable street? Imagine redesigning any street into something amazing using your phone. Viva pedestrians!
The goal is to raise the social status of pedestrians through an interactive mobile service.
Help us inspire citizens to discover the walkable potential of their community. Align common goals of city planners with those of the local residents and put ideas into action.
In the words of Tim O'Reilly, "government, at its core, is about doing together what we can’t do alone". Citizens are stakeholders, designers and participants in constructing the vision of their neighbourhoods and streets.
Your backing not only helps us financially, but it illustrates the readiness of citizens to participate as stakeholders in urban planning projects. Each dollar we raise is a vote for participatory design between city planners and local citizens.
How the tool works
Identify a street you think should be designed in a more pedestrian friendly way.
Record your story about why you think the street should be designed in a more pedestrian friendly way.
Set the location of your street.
Redesign a more walkable design of any street, anywhere in the world.
What happens after you complete your design?
We're currently in discussions with the City of Austin to run a pilot using the prototype when it's ready to test with a large audience. Additionally, we're meeting with city planners and urban designers to understand their needs when it comes to real-time data.
Essentially, city planners can export data from the tool that tells them:
- what streets are most important to local citizens
- how citizens imagine themselves using local streets as pedestrians
- insight into current design "workarounds"
- how to align future urban planning projects with the priorities of local citizens
What's most impactful about this tool is the ability for everyone to visualise each others perspective in real-time. Instead of describing a design in words it's possible to create a sketch; which is a highly effective tool for communicating an intention. The insights collected by this tool save time and money because it's possible to extract real-time data that would traditionally take months of planning and coordination.
And the communication of design ideas aren't one-sided. City planners and urban designers can also use the tool to illustrate their design ideas and collect feedback from local citizens. Thereby recognising and rewarding participation form local citizens and encouraging collaboration.
What's involved in building this tool?
We need to raise $25,000 to fund the build of a working prototype and trial it as a pilot in Austin.
The more funds we raise the more features and capabilities we'll be able to add. Your donation supports our work building software that makes cities more walkable.
Your contribution will help us with steps one through three of the development process.
Development steps involved:
1) Develop a working prototype
2) Trial the prototype as a pilot in Austin
3) Refine the tool based on the findings from the pilot
4) Launch the tool globally
With your support, Key to the Street will release a truly revolutionary mobile prototype. Initially, there will be a pilot in Austin and once we’re confident that the tool works on any type of smart phone; it will be made available Internationally.
Scaling the prototype to a product that's ready to 'ship' globally isn't included in this particular Kickstarter project. We've applied for the Code for America accelerator and we're currently seeking a Board of Directors to help with startup costs.
Why do we need walkable streets?
Walkability has individual and community health benefits, such as:
- Opportunities for increased social interaction
- Increase in the average number of friends and associates where people live,
- Reduced crime (with more people walking and watching over neighborhoods, open space and main streets)
- Increased sense of pride
- Increased volunteerism
- Decrease carbon emissions
What is the true cost of unwalkable streets?
Quite simply, lack of walking is making us fat and isolated. We worry about the effects video games may have on our children, but we don’t ask ourselves the consequences of rarely experiencing walking.
Imagine a thirteen year old whose grandparents live in the next gated community down the road. The child must be driven out of the protected neighborhood onto a major traffic collector then into the secured community of the grandparents.
This preteen cannot walk to visit grandparents (or friends) even in a safe neighbourhood less than a quarter mile away. What kind of effect will that urban isolation have on a young person? Can you imagine never experiencing walking to school as a kid? It's sad, Johnny can't walk to school.
In the beginning, Key to the Street was focused on serving people local recommendations on their smart phones of shops and restaurants who source their inventory from local growers and makers.
Jess, the founder had been living in Melbourne, Australia; which according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) most recent global liveability report was the most liveable city in the world in 2012.
But upon arriving in Austin, it was clear that first there needed to be a tool to make streets more walkable. Because what's the point of receiving local recommendations on your mobile phone you aren't able to walk to?
The “Made in Banff” Digital Media Pitch Session
At SXSWi in March 2013, Jess pitched the idea of building a collaborative mobile design tool allowing anyone, anywhere in the world to redesign streets to create more walkable communities. And she won!
The Banff Centre is a globally respected arts, cultural, and educational institution and conference facility located in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Jess is now building a prototype with The Banff Centre. Kenny Lozowski is the Lead Programmer, Film & Media The Banff Centre and will lead the web development work for the prototype.
The Film & Media Research and Collaboration Lab performs investigations and assist artists with projects that incorporate video, sound, images, displays, robotics, cameras, sensor arrays and other media elements into technological art pieces that don’t fit within a traditional practise or framework. Human-machine interfaces, software development, electronic design, and bespoke system design are all a part of the development process in the lab.
What the 2-week Banff Centre-hosted Creation Residency includes:
- return flights
- 2 week accommodation
- professional resources include a wide variety of production and post-production services
- public presentation of the work created
What isn't included:
- research, development and planning costs
- dedicated resources outside of the 2 week residency
We need to bring on additional resources if we are going to attempt to build the tool as we've envisioned it. Web development is only one part of the work involved to make this tool a reality.
Risks and challenges
Jessica Lowry, founder of Key to the Street won a pitch session at SXSWi 2013 held by The Banff Centre. This means that the build will be co-designed remotely. A working prototype might take more time because the team is split between Austin and Banff.
Additionally, Jess has been in discussions with The City of Austin to partner on the project to ensure that the output of the tool is useful for city planners. The hope is to be able to export 3D print outs of street redesigns. If the redesigns aren't useful to city planners the tool won't be able to put ideas into action.
Everyone involved in the project understands the opportunity and the need to get the experience right for the people who want to redesign more walkable streets.
Jess is an experienced user experience designer. She designs wireframes, tests functionality with users, collects actionable feedback and uncovers insights as to user requirements.
The Banff Centre hosts professional resources include a wide variety of production and post-production services along experienced programmers, animators, videographers and audio personnel.
Additional resources are required and that's why we need to raise funds on KickStarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)