Most of us can likely point out Los Angeles on a map, but what about its El Sereno neighborhood? What about Leimert Park? And surely we can all locate New York City. But what about Parkchester in the Bronx?
With Code for America’s open source game Click That ‘Hood, you can improve your neighborhood geography one round at a time. It’s simple: Find a city, then test your knowledge of its various neighborhoods and districts by clicking the appropriate spot on the map when prompted with its name. Each round is timed, so you can keep track of your improving geographical savvy.
The app is the product of nonprofit organization Code for America’s fellowship program, which pairs designers, developers, and entrepreneurs with civic leaders. The fellowship aims to not only bring local governments into the 21st century, but also build vital web-based technologies to serve local constituents. In this case, fellows in Louisville were working on an app to visualize crime in different neighborhoods in the city. Along the way, they created this simpler offshoot.
“The idea was in a way selfish,” says developer Marcin Wichary, who worked on the project with fellows Shaunak Kashyap and Laura Meixell, with additional help from Sophia Parafina and Ezra Spier. “I imagined using it to learn about Louisville just before going there for the first time (the fellowship teams spend their entire Februaries visiting the partner cities), and also to learn some geovisualization libraries that might be useful later in the ‘real’ projects we build.”
After Louisville, they built a game for Lexington, and then added a set of instructions so anyone could add new cities. With 59 cities and counting, Click That ‘Hood is both a clever tool for improving your local geographical knowledge and an object lesson in the value of open source technologies.
“We had people telling us how they learned a lot about geographic visualization in the process,” says Wichary. “We’ve heard from people contacting their city officials to release their neighborhood data to the public–and even from city officials themselves. We’ve also, naturally, witnessed a lot of complaints about the shapes and names of neighborhoods, and our answer is always the same: it’s all open data, so just send us your changes. If Click That ‘Hood convinces someone about the value of open source projects, or the importance of open data, that’s already a victory.”