Monday, March 2, 2009

Ground Crew

GPS is not just about maps and driving directions anymore. As smart phones get even smarter, people like Joe Edelman are creating new ways to use location-awareness apps to enable people to connect and interact with the world from their pockets in ways previously unimaginable.

For his part, Edelman is developing something called Ground Crew—which he hopes will help to make community organizing easier, if not more immediate. Think crowdsourcing—but on-demand. Need a bunch of volunteers within the next hour to help your nonprofit distribute fliers around the neighborhood? "Get your squad on," says Edelman. Using your mobile phone, Ground Crew can link you to a real-time "squad" of people who can drum up volunteer coordinators and community organizers in a heartbeat. It uses text messaging and GPS to help you see who in your network is available at any given time, whether for 20 minutes or an entire morning.

Edelman, a former community organizer, is especially excited by the potential of his app to crowd-source large demonstrations, like flash causes. "We need to reorganize the world," says Edelman, who got inspired through his previous work with Charlie Todd's Improv Everywhere group, famous for its art-and-performance flash mobs, including Frozen Grand Central in 2008. "We're not doing things right as communities. We're not meeting our neighbors. We're using too much energy to get things done."

Check out some of the other promising new location-awareness apps in Wired; also is tracking them closely.

(Illustration, Beyond Cell Phone, by Antonis Papantoniou for

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