Cotuit

Providence Tomorrow

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How about business districts that have an oversaturation of one type of business within a small area? That way, the city can take stock of services lacking a neighborhood should one of these businesses relocate.

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[uP folks: the following is a draft of a blog entry and email that I'll be posting/sending around shortly. I'd appreciate any feedback you have. My contact info is at the end. thanks!]

The city is looking for people to take pictures of things they like and don't like about Providence. This is a great idea. It is such a good idea that I'd like to help the city realize the potential of using pictures/photos as a planning tool. As such, I propose the following:

Use tags on Flickr to handle submitted photographs. I'd suggest using the following tags.\:

1.) pvd_tmrw_good

2.) pvd_tmrw_bad

Wherein citizens can upload their photos to flickr and tag them as photos of things they think are "good" or "bad" (e.g. things they like/don't like about what they've photographed).

This achieves multiple ends:

1.) A central repository of all photographs

2.) A very low barrier to achieving this central repository

3.) A completely transparent repository (e.g. if the city sets up a tool that collects the photographs, it is almost inconceivable that they would share that collected data transparently on the web given their track record and the barrier to creating said infrastructure)

4.) Flickr has a built-in notes/annotation and commenting system that will make it very easy for fellow citizens to comment on, make notes/annotations, etc. on submitted photographs.

There are two ways that citizens can utilize the Flickr tags:

1.) If you have an existing flickr account, simply tag your photos as "pvd_tmrw_good" or "pvd_tmrw_bad"

- see here for help with tags

2.) If you don't have an existing Flickr account (and do not wish to establish a free one) you may use a gateway that I've created on sna.providence.ri.us server.

Simply email your photo to one of the following two email addresses:

[email protected]

or

[email protected]

These two email accounts are gateways to Flickr in that any SINGLE

photo that is attached to an email and sent to one of the addresses will be automatically submitted to flickr and tagged with "pvd_tmrw_good" or "pvd_tmrw_bad" depending on the email address

used.

Note:

The subject line of the email will be used as the Title of the submitted photo.

The body of the email will be used as the Description of the photo.

You can use your cameraphone to send pics to this email address and they'll show up on flickr.

Photos submitted through the sna.providence.ri.us email gateway should include the name and neighborhood of the sender somewhere in the body (since totally anonymous submissions probably aren't that useful.)

Other big gains here are the ability for websites/users to subscribe to RSS feeds of the photos and comments. This would allow all neighborhood groups and other planning folks to benefit and use the same tool.

Additionally, Flickr is VERY cameraphone friendly. If you're walking around town with your cameraphone and see something you like/dislike, take a snap and send the pic to your flickr account or one of the two sna email gateways that I've setup. In a few minutes the pic will be up on flickr and open to comments, discussion and annotation by anyone who's interested in participating.

There are still a couple of bugs I'm ironing out with the email->flickr gateway at sna.providence.ri.us. If you've got your own flickr account though you can start uploading and tagging photos right now.

I've posted a couple of sample shots (simple to test things, I'll delete them once real photos start showing up).

Things that are "good" are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/pvdtmrwgood/

Things that are "bad" are here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/pvdtmrwbad/

RSS feeds of these items are of course available. Images uploaded using the sna email gateway should start showing up in those pages over the next several hours.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, feedback or comments at [email protected]

Enjoy!

Jim Willis

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also, I hope you all will also consider using the Flickr tags (either through your own flickr accounts or through the email gateway i've written :D

if you want to futz around with the email gateway, you can see photos that you mail to [email protected] here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

and photos that you mail to [email protected] here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Like I said in the previous post, those pics should start showing up in the main pvd_tmrw_good/bad pages in a few hours. They are new accounts so it takes a while for the tagged pics to start being aggregated with the rest of the site.

Let me know how it goes!

Yours,

Jim Willis

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I was totally thinking about using Flickr for this, glad someone else tackled it. :thumbsup:

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I was totally thinking about using Flickr for this, glad someone else tackled it. :thumbsup:

@cotuit:

awesome. glad you get it. I actually had the idea when i saw the pictures you posted on your blog. it seemed to me that using flickr's annotation/note tool would just make the pictures so much more useful (and being able to actually discuss individual shots). My real hope here is that you and others who are a bit more well-versed in planning vocabulary/ideas will seed the two tags with some photos of your own and set the tone of the postings/discussion a bit.

later

Jim

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I have to get back to what I started on my blog (my host was flaking out last weekend due to heat issues and a fire in LA so I couldn't finish commenting on why I chose those issues). Once I do that, I'll load them to Flickr with the same comments.

Do you have a personal relationship with Thom Deller? I bet Planning would link the Flickr pools to the Providence Tomorrow site. I can send him an email about it if you want.

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Let me know how it goes!

Yours,

Jim Willis

Jim, fantastic idea. I'm actually not the biggest Flickr fan in the world for image hosting (it doesn't automatically generate thumbnails, amongst other problems), but it is undeniably a great tool to use for an idea such as yours.

I'll purposefully teach myself to use it for this purpose.

Perhaps we should put additional tags (the names of the 25 neighborhoods or wards, for example) to delineate where these things are for when the charettes get down to the neighborhood, rather than city, level.

- Garris

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this afternoon i went on a 4.37 mile walk (or that's the mileage i got from google earth after i checked out where i went). i took tons of pics. my screenname on flickr is the same as this one. all my pics are tagged using the proposed tags.

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this afternoon i went on a 4.37 mile walk (or that's the mileage i got from google earth after i checked out where i went).

I love Google Earth for that!

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this afternoon i went on a 4.37 mile walk (or that's the mileage i got from google earth after i checked out where i went). i took tons of pics. my screenname on flickr is the same as this one. all my pics are tagged using the proposed tags.

@ runawayjim: awesome! Thanks for giving it a shot.

I'm still waiting for the two mail gateway accounts to go live (I needed to have at least 5 pics in each for them to get out of the pending state and i didn't realize that until tonight). Once those accounts are fully functional, I'll get the word out and I'd imagine it will be a nicely used tool.

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There was an interesting article in the Journal on Friday where a study by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research in 2003 found that Rhode Island had the fifth highest cost of living. I mention this because it's an important thing to consider as we engage ourselves in Providence Tomorrow. Yes, there are affordable parts of the city to live in. However, as we talk about new office space construction to attract companies or why companies locate out in the suburbs, high cost of living for individuals and high property taxes on businesses are two important challenges to deal with that have a direct impact on these scenarios. As a group, we need to develop cost solutions in addition to development solutions so that said development solutions can succeed.

We want more retail in Providence, but the sales tax is 2% lower in Mass.

We want more office space in Downcity, but our commercial property taxes are the third highest in the U.S.

We want to attract more residents. However, for many, the cost of living here outweighs the benefits.

This is not a gripe session. It's simply layering some financial perspective on top of the other important urban planning issues. Looking forward to the possible solutions we can formulate.

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. . .

Perhaps we should put additional tags (the names of the 25 neighborhoods or wards, for example) to delineate where these things are for when the charettes get down to the neighborhood, rather than city, level.

- Garris

I've posted an announcement for this over at the SNA blog: http://sna.providence.ri.us/blog/

I think the idea of neighborhood tags is brilliant. I also think it would be great to be able to tag with some planning-specific taxonomy but I don't know the vocabulary well enough to propose anything here. I believe the best-case scenario is to have some people who understand the issues AND know the vocabulary to seed the two tags with photos and additional tags that others can then use as models/samples.

Once we get a critical mass of photos in there (and some additional tags), I'll create a "Providence Tomorrow Photo Browsing page" (i'm happy to share the code for this, it'll likely be PHP) so that multiple sites can grab the code to aggregate and display comments on tag/neighborhood specific photos. I should, however, note that I'm on vacation right now and trying to take a break from coding.

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Interesting article about getting local teenagers involved in city planning. Maybe we should reach out to them about joining our group (half-kidding). Of course, we would need to find a meeting place with non-alcoholic options. :D

http://www.projo.com/metro/content/projo_2...21.1e651aa.html

it wouldn't be terrible to have younger people in our group... i was extremely impressed by the high school students who presented at the kick off event. very well spoken and they knew exactly what they want and need for the city to succeed and for others who follow in their footsteps to have it a bit easier.

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Interesting article about getting local teenagers involved in city planning. Maybe we should reach out to them about joining our group (half-kidding). Of course, we would need to find a meeting place with non-alcoholic options. :D

I'm all for reaching out to youth once we have ourselves organized and ready to roll.

And I think we'd actually need an alcohol free space if/when we do a youth outreach.

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I bet Planning would link the Flickr pools to the Providence Tomorrow site. I can send him an email about it if you want.

We spoke about the potential link today. We are willing to link. contact Bob Enright in my office to get it done.

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We spoke about the potential link today. We are willing to link. contact Bob Enright in my office to get it done.

That's great, I'll let Jim know to get in touch with Bob.

No I just have to get cracking on getting my photos commented and loaded to flickr.

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3.) A completely transparent repository (e.g. if the city sets up a tool that collects the photographs, it is almost inconceivable that they would share that collected data transparently on the web given their track record . . . )

Could you elaborate?

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does anyone who was at providence tomorrow know where we should be emailing pictures to? i can't seem to find anything on the providence tomorrow site.

EDIT: after looking over the site, i guess i could just send them to thom?

We are revising our web page as I type this and if all goes well it will be up tomorrow. We will be setting up a few buttons on the Providence Tomorrow page. One will be for sharing ideas, one for photos and the third will take you to a landing page for our presentations. Hope this helps.

If you send photos, send them to [email protected] until the page is corrected. Thanks.

Also, there has been discussion about what exactly we are looking for. What we are really trying to get a sense of is what people think is good development and what is bad development. It is a way to educate us and the public about the variety of views that exist in the city. Thanks.

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We are revising our web page as I type this and if all goes well it will be up tomorrow. We will be setting up a few buttons on the Providence Tomorrow page. One will be for sharing ideas, one for photos and the third will take you to a landing page for our presentations. Hope this helps.

If you send photos, send them to [email protected] until the page is corrected. Thanks.

Also, there has been discussion about what exactly we are looking for. What we are really trying to get a sense of is what people think is good development and what is bad development. It is a way to educate us and the public about the variety of views that exist in the city. Thanks.

so is this mostly in regards to buildings?

check out the flickr photos

good

bad

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so is this mostly in regards to buildings?

No, it is importnat to hear comments on all issues, but some will not be part of the planning process but will be turned over to the Operations Department to think aboput how we get better at doing our job.

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@cotuit;

sry. have been away on vacation. any ideas on how to get in touch with Bob?

The planning department actually has an extensive contact list on their website.

ROBERT ENRIGHT [email protected] 401.351.4300 x535

It's all very 21st century. :shades:

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