Technology and democracy and pot holes: “Young Rewired State”

A group of young (and that includes pre-teen) people came together in Manchester last week to sharpen their “coding” skills.(1) Held at Madlab, it was part of a bigger project called “Young Rewired State”(2).  One of the projects that came out of it was called “Bump-o-Matic” – an mobile phone app that creates a map of where the pot-holes are.  MCFly asked (via email) questions of two of the participants, Matty Edmund and Chris Cox.

1) What’s the most surprising/exciting thing that has happened during Young Rewired State?
Matty Edmund: Our team managed to successfully build an android app to transmit GPS co-ordinates and number of pot hole information to a server that would process the information by placing it into a MySQL database, and then that data would be displayed on a page on our website.
Chris Cox: For me, the most exciting thing that happened during Young Rewired State was seeing the whole project come together at the end. Before Friday, I thought that we would never get the app to work, and that we would end up with a messy presentation accompanied with an unfinished project! However the whole thing came together on Friday, so that on Saturday we had a finished app with working website and cool promotional video!

2) Some of our readers will be a bit confused about some of the new technologies you are already very comfortable with.  They are may not sure how these technologies might help people and organisations be ‘greener’ – could you give some examples of stuff that already exists – or that you would like to create! – that could help people reduce their carbon footprint.
ME: It’d be great to make an application for a phone/wireless device that connects to a transceiver that could measure how much electricity a house is using, so that you could collect information and find out how much electricity you’re using in one month, then possibly provide advice on how to lower electrical usage.
CC: The Bump-O-Matic app helps to promote safer cycling, which could help to encourage people to return to cycling who could have been previously put off cycling due to the amount of potholes in the roads.

3)  How would you try to encourage more people –  young and old – to get involved in coding?
ME: I would provide courses/classes that would be able to teach young and old people code to make fun and interesting programs/ objects such as websites.
CC: My advice to people who want to start coding is to download a development environment, and have a go. There are lots of great development environments available and many of them are free and include instructions of how to get started! If you need help with your code- do not be afraid to ask people for help. Coding can be a complex and often confusing process- however all programmers will have been in the same position as you at some time-so don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Another great idea is to learn to code with others who are in the same situation. This means that you can learn together, which can be fun and exciting!

4)  What counts as success for you as individuals, around your involvement with Young Rewired State?
ME: Success comes to you when you have managed to build a basic form of an idea, and then that excitement and thrill that you get from that success can build up when you improve and develop your idea into a better one.
CC: For me, I considered getting the app into the Google Play store a success, as Bump-O-Matic is the first app I have put there. The Android app itself was part of my area of work in the group, so to see the app available to everyone was- for me – a big achievement.

5) Anything else you’d like to say?
ME: It’d be great to get a team together to develop amazing things for a greener environment, and share code to learn from others, and also teach others.
CC: I’d like to say a big thank-you to everyone involved at Madlab with Young Rewired State, because without them Bump-O-Matic would have never happened.

Marc Hudson

(1) For the benefit of MCFly’s more, ahem, mature readers, that means – writing the software that keeps the Internet and mobile phones working as if by magic.
(2) From the website – “We run hack days. We take between 10 – 150 talented developers and give them money, time, space, caffeine, sugar and food, whilst they build cool/creative prototypes to solve your problems. If you’d like to kickstart a new project or accelerate an existing Research & Development programme, get in touch.”

Further Reading
Young Rewired State Manchester

Thanks to the respondents, and to Dr Yuwei Lin, Lecturer in Future Media at the School of MEdia, Music and Performance at the University of Salford for her help in making this article happen!

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Event reports, Interview, Transport and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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