Beacons also have utility in the realm of city governance. Together with an official NYC app, a City-wide beacon infrastructure, would allow the de Blasio administration to forge new channels of engagement with its constituents, as well as stretch public resources by replacing tasks or functions that previously had to be performed manually.
Beacons could provide many opportunities for creating greater efficiencies and transparencies in government. Highly accurate geolocation technology could greatly improve the intelligence and efficacy of the City’s 311 platform, both for users as well as for the Mayor’s Office. Beacon-afforded, location-sensitive messaging could also replace confusing street signs governing parking, street-closures for filming, alerts for street-cleaning, and refuse dumping, just for example. Beacons could also bring greater transparency to those infamous Privately-Owned-Public-Spaces, made famous by Occupy Wall Street, by providing visitors with information about opening hours and rules. Beacon infrastructure could also facilitate the City’s deployment of context-appropriate safety messages in parks and other public spaces, and provide the City with better insights as to these spaces’ use.
A city-wide beacon infrastructure could also better leverage the resources of libraries and schools, and greatly increase efficiencies, and health and safety standards in hospitals and eldercare (where, for example, a doctor could have a patient’s health history and test results load to an iPad when he walks into a room). Beacons could also bring meaningful improvements in mobility and city navigation to the disabled and visually impaired — by triggering a vibrating app at a safe street crossing or by alerting the wheelchair-bound to nearby subway elevators or wheelchair accessible entryways.
Furthermore, sensors throughout the city could also become essential digital infrastructure for emergency management, and function as a key part of efforts to bolster the City’s resilience to future storm events and natural disasters. The technology would allow for contextual messaging regarding nearby safety shelters and proximate evacuation routes, for instance, as well as facilitate other real-time government-issued updates and alerts. So too, a geotargeting platform could also promote the efforts of first responders, and other emergency personnel in local emergency events.
While some of our ideas for New York City might seem far-fetched, beacon technology is already here, waiting to be deployed. Early experiments have proven beacons’ immense and transformative potential, and we, as freshly-minted New Yorkers, embrace beacon-enabled urban innovations as part of our vision for the immediate future of our City.
We hope you’re listening, Mayor de Blasio. The beacon is in your court.
And, if you missed them, here are our installments from earlier this week: