Thursday, February 11, 2010

"How's My Street?"

During the strain and stress of trying to get around snow-packed roads in the Pittsburgh region, residents started helping each other. That led to a "crowdsourcing" device to help people work together to find the best way to get into and out of the city. Carnegie Mellon Associate professor Priya Narasimhan is the president of YinzCam and iBurgh. She told WDUQ News that Monday she noticed a lot of action on Twitter with people seeking advice on road conditions. Narasimhan says people were sharing information but there was "no one stop shop" to access or input information and observations about area streets and roads.
She says Councilman Bill Peduto asked Monday night if her company could quickly create a citizen web based program to find the best routes around the city.
Narasimhan says she and Professor Rajeev Gandhi and and three CMU students developed the program and it was up and running by 3 p.m. Wednesday. Within the first 9 hours, more than 500 citizen eyewitness reports had been entered...
"We are doing a time lapsed tab so people can go back and say 'show me the last 3 hours of reports, or the last 6 hours' ...because the more recent the information, the more valuable it is."
Narasimhan says the "How's My Street" ( program is simple to select a pushpin for the street, red, yellow or green, depending on severity of conditions, and you categorize the streets as not passable, passable and clear.
Narasimhan says even after the snow emergency is over, they will keep the site "live" to help city officials..."so they can go back and see the time lapse of when people reported what...and we'd like to add things like could we have scheduled snow trucks at the right places based on the real time information inputted by people in the city."

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