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Today in Technovation: Are Shiny New Websites Effective?

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Today, the city launched a new app called CultureBlocks, designed to show cultural resources within any given area on a map. The app looks cool and seems to function as intended, but how useful is it? CultureBlocks is one of many new tech tools designed to spur development in Philly; several private and governmental organizations have developed map based tools, but are they effective development tools?

1.) This urban farming platform is a really cool idea: it lays out public data so that potential urban farmers can find land, supplies, and help. However, the website needs more contributors of projects, resources, and volunteer hours to function effectively, and right now, information about projects is a little sparse. The project is only in alpha testing, though, so as it moves forward, it may pick up speed.

2.) This website shows vacant properties owned by the city on a map, if they are available for sale. It offers their price, and the lot size. This is no retail real estate website, though: you can't see pictures of properties or information about their price. However, it is a huge leap forward in the city's quest to redevelop its vacant holdings, and can be useful if you're adventurous.

3.) CultureBlocks: This app is certainly well designed and functional. It's a heat map of cultural activity in Philadelphia, showing where cultural institutions and resources are in the city. However, it's sort of intimidating: knowing where bus routes, creative businesses, artists in residence, and other "resources" are in the highest concentrations might be an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable. It seems that the app is most useful to organizations and businesses looking to scout new locations for programming and development.
· City of Philadelphia Unveils New Arts-and-Culture Planning Web Site [CBS Philly]