Midtown Raleigh News

CityCamp group devises guide to the greenways

The winning proposal at this year’s CityCamp Raleigh is a really simple idea with lots of practical uses for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

It’s a mobile app called RGreenways that would help walkers and cyclists navigate the city’s trail network – from routes to parking to weather forecasts. It would even offer a place to report problems such as overgrown weeds and broken signs.

The idea came from Lorena Akin, a graduate student in the architectural program at N.C. State University. Akin was part of a seven-member team that plans to go public with the free app by next month. Initially, it will be available for iPhone and Droid devices.

Joining Akin were Deeplai Rai, Traci Tillis, Brad Johnson, David Matthews, Eric Majewicz and Jason Horne.

The group was among the stars of CityCamp, a second annual event that put young people in a room with government, business, neighborhood, nonprofit and school leaders to pursue what organizers call “next-generation solutions” for Raleigh. That means anything that can be used to improve local government and create better-informed citizens.

The greenways team won a $5,000 prize for finishing as the top vote-getter.

When Akin asked listeners whether anyone had ever gotten lost on a greenway, hands went up across the audience.

“It solved a problem that most citizens encounter,” said Jason Hibbets, a CityCamp organizer. “They used data that was already available and just patched it together.”

The 10 teams that competed for the $5,000 prize included more than a dozen students from N.C. State. That’s a key sign of success for CityCamp, said City Councilman Bonner Gaylord, a chief supporter of the event.

“We have 40,000 students in the city,” Gaylord said. “That’s one-tenth of our population. When those students graduate, so many of them leave and take their bright minds and great ideas with them. I’d love to encourage them to stay and continue to innovate in the city.”

All eight members of the Raleigh City Council dropped by for portions of the three-day event, much to the satisfaction of CityCamp organizers.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilman Russ Stephenson were on a team that explored how to rate the ease of walking and cycling in targeted areas so that the findings can be part of urban planning decisions.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin huddled with a group that looked for ways to track public records and city data requests and make popular topics more readily available.

The CityCamp fun isn’t over. Organizers are putting together a meetup for July 18, though specifics will be announced later.