What makes a street great? The bend of it's curve? The local businesses? Street art? Green space?
Over the past year I've asked myself these types of questions while designing a unique type of urban design service I call Key to the Street.
Key to the Street, a website that's designed to be used on any type of cell phone empowers everyone to share their ideas about improving street design. Using this tool anyone can collaborate with city planners resulting in better bike lanes, street lighting, side walks, etc. And everything participants share goes directly to the City. The first beta will be released in Austin, but within the year of it's release Key to the Street will be available in every city around the world.
Most of the features come from agile development principles and UX research activities. Key to the Street is a virtual service for rapid prototyping. Anyone can use Key to the Street to create a project to improve any type of public space and invite others to collaborate on ideas. The process begins by creating a project and setting an intention; you then upload photos and provide details about the goals and objectives for new designs. From there anyone who is interested to participate can use the design tool to sketch on top of a photo or image. Check out the prototype of the design tool (optimized for smart phones and tablets): http://www.keytothestreet.com/design_tool/
I've always been inspired by iconic streets; Sunset Blvd., Carnaby Street, Yonge Street, Champs-Elysees, Broadway and so on.
These types of streets service a particular culture at a particular time. But over time as culture changes the street will need to adapt or wither. Streets are living breathing entities that need to be nurtured.
There is no way any single designer, no matter how talented or skilled, could create these types of streets. They grow organically. Based on the needs of the people who are part of a particular culture. It's necessary to have a certain amount of chaos to make these streets work. But they also need to be nurtured in the right way because streets can die or become commodified and trapped in a false attempt to relive the former glory days.
We refer to streets as arteries. They channel blood supplies to the neighborhood and bigger city that surrounds. When streets are neglected they quickly erode. Every iconic street has a heart and soul that's vital to nurture its natural evolution.
It's interesting that typically what helps support iconic streets are independent businesses.
Areas with a strong local economy are more fiscally resilient. And they're also generally more interesting.
Key to the Street aims to shed light on the needs of the local culture to support the evolution for streets around the world. As a web-based service designed to be accessed on any smart phone or mobile device the strategic collection of cloud-based services links people to share their ideas for future street designs. Being able to tap into the needs of a street comes from engaging the local community.
The first beta will enable any user to create projects, upload photos and information to rally the community to participate in collaborating using a design tool.
Please join my team by backing Key to the Street on Kickstarter. The City of Austin is ready to use this tool in a pilot, but I can't deliver it until I'm able to complete more of the development work. There is a plan for scaling the service quickly so that Key to the Street can be available in every city around the world and I've already received interest in funding once the beta is built. After the pilot is complete in Austin this spring, Key to the Street will be released globally and you'll be able to use it anywhere in the world.
Back Key to the Street on Kickstarter today to help make your city a better place to live.