Guest Post from Gavin & Will Clark, 2015 CityCamp NC Hackathon Winners
Our adventures with CityCamp started as a happy accident. Gavin’s uncle was speaking and arranged for us to attend the Friday sessions. Inspired by what he heard, Gavin spent Friday night thinking about maps, North Carolina, and some of his interests. As a sixth-generation North Carolinian, Gavin has an insatiable curiosity about the history of the Tarheel State.
On Saturday, he started with an idea about collating points of interest across the state. He began by looking at Wikipedia and hand-coding addresses into a spreadsheet that we would then link to an ArcGIS map. Realizing that would take too long, we started searching for information about historic districts, and stumbled upon the historic markers found at NCmarkers.com. We figured out how to uncover the marker database and started to re-map the data with a more informative pop up that provided category information, links to nearby markers, and an in-window version of the essay that accompanies some of the markers. With the markers re-coded, we integrated historic building and district information from a Federal database. This gave us much more context for the historical markers and provided some additional information about these areas.
One more dataset that made this particularly meaningful was using the “Green Book” data. The Green Book was a traveler’s aid written from the 1930s through the early 1960s to help African-Americans identify welcoming businesses while traveling in unfamiliar places. Some of these places still exist, but many do not. This gave us the first clue into understanding that our app could be used to provide virtual markers of historic locations that have not yet been acknowledged. Giving recognition to the unrecognized is a powerful motivator, and that’s probably the concept that makes us proudest of the app.
We felt it was important for the app to be practical, not just a reference set. With that in mind, we used some of the ESRI routing algorithms to let people create itineraries or see X number of markers within a Y radius in less than Z time. That was probably the hardest piece to create because at the time, the ESRI tools were not intuitive enough for non-specialists. Accomplishing that integration was exciting.
ESRI has vastly improved the ArcGIS experience for non-specialists and we think there’s a way to integrate those tools into a practical app. Recent changes to iOS and revenue structures within the App Store make further development of Gavin’s idea more practical, and we hope to spend some time on it during his 6th grade fall break.
This year we’ll be back with some new ideas. Identifying things within our lives that could be improved or enabled has helped us focus our attention. Our experience from last year has broadened our concept of what’s possible. We’re excited to come back to CityCamp.
-- See you soon, Gavin & Will Clark
To read the full story of Gavin and his last year's CityCamp NC Hackathon project check this ExitEvent article. We're looking forward to seeing where the project goes and having both Gavin and Will back at CityCamp NC this year for another round of collaboration and great ideas!