What I’m Reading: Tolls and Apps

by mcfcrandall

There is a lot of great stuff being written every day.  I can’t blog about it all. The previous several weeks I was just listing a bunch of articles, however I found that did not add a lot of value. This week I’ll try a new approach. Instead of listing everything, I want to highlight some themes that emerged from the list and then provide a brief summary below.


Tolls and Polls



This week I spotted two themes that I felt were worth highlighting, tolls and apps. From the first, the Globe and Mail published an article on the results of a poll that focus on funding transit in the GTA. The results;

27.1 per cent of respondents named road tolls as their first choice for revenue collection. An increase to the gasoline tax ranked second, with 15.8 per cent selecting it as their preference, followed by a hike in transit fares at 12.1 per cent.

The New York Times meanwhile posed the question “You pay the toll, Where should the money go?” to five experts with different view points. The responses are excellent and well thought out. I highly recommend taking a look at it.

The second theme I saw in this weeks list was the rise of civic minded apps. Governing.com wrote new technologies and the way it was transforming how government interact with citizens and employees. Philly.com reporting on the free CityHall App, complements Governing’s article perfectly  The app, CityHall, is being used to report landlords and tenants who blight their blocks. It has apparently been effective;

Henon, who introduced his CityHall App last spring and quickly saw hundreds of Northeast residents download and use it, discovered that when property violations go viral, most offenders cave. If they don’t, he’ll summon them to public hearings and alert Licenses & Inspections – which is never good news for a noncomplying city property owner.

To wrap up the list, Fast Company is reporting on another app, LocalData. Three young American Fellows have develop the app the provide a digital tool kit to let communities collect data about the places they live. For example;

They used an early version of LocalData to help a community track urban blight, and later, to help urban planning students carry out a sweeping commercial parcel study. “They mapped 9,000 parcels [of land] in a matter of weeks, which they wouldn’t have been able to do using traditional survey methodologies,” Rouault explains. “It proved our hypothesis–that this could be a useful tool not just for community groups, but for experts.”