CRG solutions in action
Metro GeoSocial Interactive Mapping System
L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Facebook and Twitter login
- Dynamic iPhone and Android apps
- GIS mapping services
- Open data APIs
- .Net Web Application Development
- Geographic Informaiton Systems (GIS)
Overview: The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) operates one of the world’s largest transportation systems serving a population of 9.6 million people. As a leading transportation planning agency with a commitment to innovation and technology, Metro selected CRG to develop a first of kind GeoSocial Interactive Mapping System to increase public participation through emerging technologies including social media, mobile, open data, and cloud computing.
Goals/Objectives: The GeoSocial Mapping system leverages the power of the Internet to greatly enhance the public participation process for high impact planning and construction projects. In addition Metro was looking for a foundational system that could serve as a long term solution and overall platform for interactive public participation on all of its transit and highway projects, and general communications with the public about how public transportation can positively affect the quality of life in Metro’s 1,433 square mile service area – a region that includes nearly a third of California’s population.
Challenges: CRG worked collaboratively with Metro and their public outreach consultants Arellano & Associates to break new ground in the field of public participation and communications--including overcoming a series of technology and policy related challenges associated with developing a first-of-kind system. Key challenges included:
- Develop a unified system t that integrates disparate technologies including GIS, social media, mobile applications, web—all in real time utilizing open APIs.
- Provide a highly usable and engaging geo-based system that encourages the public to actively participate and comment on projects that impact their daily lives.
- Provide a consistent brand and overall user interface across devices and form factors including mobile phones, PCs, and tablet devices.
- Establish a framework and related policies for handling user generated content including guidelines and process for data handling.
Solution/Strategy: CRG created an interactive mapping system that allows users to add geo-tagged comments and photos specific to their area. Dubbed the “Geo-Social Interactive Map,” the system was built on CRG’s CivicConnect© platform, an open web/data management system built on commercially available technologies. The GeoSocial Interactive Map allows Metro project teams to stimulate public comments and feedback at specific junctures of each project and to engage in an ongoing, long term interactive dialogue with the community and interested stakeholders. CRG developed the underlying open data architecture and worked directly with Metro and Metro contractors to create the open data feeds for the GeoSocial Mapping System.
The interactive mapping system provides visualizations of the Metro project areas where users can register directly or through their social media accounts, search project information, submit geo-specific comments and photos (e.g., ideas for improvement, potential issues, on the ground user knowledge) and populate an interactive map with their comments. CRG worked with Metro’s communications team to ensure that the new mapping system complied with Metro’s branding and marketing guidelines.
Results: The system now serves as a foundation that can be expanded for multiple other projects at Metro, and is an open data best practice including integration with iPhone and Android mobile applications. It was used as the base information system for the 2012 Rail-Volution conference held in Los Angeles, and now serves as a key communications and information tool for Metro. The system further showcases the positive impact that new digital tools such as Facebook and Twitter can have on transit at all levels.