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Fix My Street meets Geocaching, minus the bomb squad

July 14, 2011

Geocaching hit the news earlier this month when a Wetherby shopping street was closed for three hours after a man was seen “acting a bit suspiciously” as he fiddled with a small plastic container before leaving it under a flower box on a pavement.

The container, which was destroyed in a controlled explosion by the Royal Logistic Corps at Catterick Garrison, wasn’t a bomb but a Geocache – part of a global internet-based treasure hunt called Geocaching.

Geocaching is a popular real-world outdoor treasure hunt where players (there are tens of thousands in the UK alone) try to locate hidden containers – geocaches – using GPS-enabled smartphones, then take a prize or leave a message and share their experiences online.

But what happened after the Royal Logistical Corps carried out the explosion on the box and, presumably, the flower box caught up in this whole sorry saga? Did Wetherby Town Council replace it and mend the damaged pavement? Probably. But let’s say, for the sake of this article, they didn’t – what would be the next step?

For some, Fix My Street would be the next port of call.

Fix My Street is a website and smartphone app, that allows people to report, view or discuss local problems such as potholes, graffiti and abandoned vehicles. Citizens pinpoint the area of whatever it is that needs fixing, cleaning or clearing on a map which is then passed on to the local council for dealing with.

But what if we combined Geocaching with Fix My Street?

I’m pretty sure we’d come up with something along the lines of Commons – a new game and iPhone app (launched on 19th June in New York) where city dwellers “compete to do good”. Players are tasked with finding problems to report and coming up with improvements to show their “city some lovin’”. Players can then vote on the best reports and ideas for improvement and “see what’s most popular in the hood” while data is shared with NYC.Gov’s 311 team to get the problems fixed.

The perfect game to combine urban activism and an appetite for a treasure hunt perhaps? Minus a call out for the bomb squad.

(Thanks to @Noelito for the Commons headsup!)

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