For people who own cars, it's fairly easy to get to a doctor, a grocery store that offers fresh fruits and vegetables, or a park where they can exercise. But in many low-income communities, where residents depend on public transit and walking, poorly planned development and inadequate transit funding have put many of these basic services out of reach. What we need is to pair an interactive directory of services with a solution that would show people where these services were during their day, be it at school, at their job or to or from their home. It needs to be easy to use, and provide only the most relevant information based on the user’s needs.
For example, a single mother commuting to work might want to know where there is a food bank, pantry or thrift shop for clothing. She could open the app, and find just the information she needs and no ads or extra filler.
What is Geofencing?
A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area.A geo-fence could be dynamically generated—as in a radius around a store or point location. Or a geo-fence can be a predefined set of boundaries, like school attendance zones or neighborhood boundaries. Custom-digitized geofences are also in use.
What if we used geo-fencing to send alerts to a smartphone user when they pass by any services they might want? The user would select or even enter for themselves, services and businesses they need to find to support their family. The app could set a circle boundary (2-10 miles) from the user's cell phone - sending alerts when anything on the list of services they need come up on the google map.
For all three mobile platforms, the platforms provide deep API information as well as downloadable example code to get you started
Examples of real-world use:
- Geofencing, used with child location services, can notify parents if a child leaves a designated area.
- Other applications include sending an alert if a vehicle is stolen (link) and notifying rangers when wildlife stray into farmland.(limk)
- 1Degree.org: One Degree is an online database of nonprofit services – with a powerful API with all kinds of taggable information. What sets it apart is Yelp style ratings and reviews and well documented data set.
- 211.org : 211 is a nationwide database with 90% coverage in 49 states. As of February 2014, 2-1-1 serves over 285 million Americans (91% of the entire population) covering all 50 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico (39 states plus DC and PR enjoy 100% coverage).