Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baltimore's Awesome 311 Program

A "dirty alley" from Baltimore's 311 service.
Apparently Baltimore, Maryland is one of the first cities to contract with ConnectedBits on a 311 smartphone app for iPhones and Android.  The City has also hooked up the service to a Twitter account which posts all of the tickets as they are opened and closed, many of them with photos.

What an awesome idea.  Smartphones are proliferating faster than any other tech device ever.  In just four years, the sales of smartphones have overtaken those of featurephones.  Everyone with one of these magic devices is suddenly a citizen journalist, a neighborhood watch member, a city inspector.  And since ConnectedBits built Baltimore's app using the Open311 standard, others can hack and add to the platform to improve the service even more.

I wasn't aware that Baltimore had been at the forefront of the 311 program.  I assumed that most cities had something like this.  I wonder how effective the program, coupled with new mobile apps, is in helping to improve areas of the city?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Inaugural Grand Prix Huge Win for Baltimore, I Say

The Baltimore Business Journal agrees. Some restaurants might disagree.

From my viewpoint, the race organization was superb. Ticket checking was fast and easy. The "stamp" system worked really well (you only needed to show your ticket once all day, and then you could come and go from the various race areas as much as you wanted). I didn't think the lines for the bridges were awful, but I know sometimes they were long. A friend suggested they could double some of the major bridges to have one in each direction, and that might make sense.

Food and soda was easy to get, and reasonably priced (for festival fare). The view, even with a general admission ticket, was great. I saw the entire race course with just a little walking. I got some good pictures and videos. The weather wasn't awful. There were maps of the course and surrounding area everywhere. There was even an app (although I would rate it the worst part of the experience; who cares about seeing pictures of the "Checker Flag Girls?").

Most importantly of all, I didn't hear a single person complain all day. The "mood" on Twitter seems to be very positive as well. Plenty of people, including the mayor are cautiously optimistic about next year's race already. The country (world?) got to see a very positive view of our town, Baltimore, today, and that might be the biggest win of all.

Update: Apparently some drivers agree with me, and even Roger Penske is bullish on Baltimore.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marital Satisfaction

My wife and I are addicted to The Marriage Ref. I'm not sure why.

Perhaps it's the celebrities that draw us in. Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Pompeo. Big name stars who are very funny.

Perhaps it's the absurdity of the fights. The stuffed dog the husband refuses to take off the mantle. The wife who spends thousands of dollars on a doll house. The husband who spends way, way, way too much time with his giant pumpkins. They're so unbelievably droll, mundane, trivial, that it contextualizes our every day disagreements and makes them seem much more normal.

Or perhaps it's just that there's nothing else on in the summer that Heather can stand.

Who knows?