Every day I talk about things that are going on in the technology world, with an eye toward things that are a) consumer-oriented; b) relatively quick to explain (I have about 2 minutes total); and c) easy to comprehend, because hey, it’s early at 7:30am, and while I race to prepare beginning at 4:30am when I get up, I’m still not always fully caffeinated and/or coherent.
But I was struck that this week, there were three great New England stories to discuss, two of them involving New Englanders developing interesting apps for the iPhone.
The folks at Children’s Hospital and MIT who built HealthMap also released their iPhone app, with the admittedly not-so-catchy name “Outbreaks Near Me”. On the other hand, it does pretty well explain what the app does, which is more than a lot of iPhone apps can say. In any case, the location-based app has gotten a lot of attention and opens the door to crowdsourcing flu and other outbreaks – which may be the only way to illustrate the breadth of any outbreaks this fall.
Then this morning, I got to focus on the new app from Sparkfish Creative, a Cambridge, Mass. outfit that has created the first app which uses open data from the MBTA and other transit agencies to make it possible for commuters to download and use train, ferry and bus schedules from the MBTA. It’s called MassTransit. Sparkfish plans to improve the app over time, adding GPS-based information such as where the nearest bus stops might be, and adding information from other agencies.
But what we really hope is that the T finds a way to make real-time information available to use in apps like these. It’s nice to know when the next bus is scheduled, but it’s even better to know when it will actually arrive.
(The third story with a local bent was the latest Communication Workers of America report on download speeds. Turns out that while the fact that the CWA found that the U.S. is 28th in the world in bandwidth, I was more struck by the regional disparity. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut were in the Top 10 states for bandwidth – Vermont and Maine were in the Bottom 10. Got to do a follow-up on that.)