In the scope of the project the YDS mobile app was developed. The app runs on Android and is freely available. If you are curious about the app and its features, check out the interview with Leonidas Kallipolitis. As a software engineer at project partner ATC he is the brain behind the app.
YDS is all about open data and giving civilians and journalists access to it. How does the app contribute to that goal?
The app provides an easy way to learn about ongoing public construction projects and check their status. The app presents the projects as a list or on a map, thus making it easier for civilians to look for projects near or around their area of living.
Can you guide us through the main functionalities of the app. First we download the app on our android device and then…
After downloading and opening the app, the user is presented with a map which is focused at the area around the current location of the user. Any existing projects are pinned on the map or the user can move the map focus to any other area and see the relevant projects. If the user is on the move and approaches to a project, the app will issue a notification and let the user select the project and see the details. The user can of course just tap on a project on the map to see its details.
The details page of the project provides location, budget, start/end dates and description of the project. Moreover, the user can add a comment about this project and also see comments by other users with the ability to like/dislike them. Users can also rate the projects using a 5-star scale. The ratings are visible to all users and give an idea of the public opinion about a specific project.
What is your favorite function?
The project proximity function is a personal best of the app. You can drive on a national road and receive a notification about the relevant construction project and its status. You get information for a project right at the moment that you are actually using it!
Imagine you would have another month just to work on the app, is there anything you would like to add to the functionalities?
There is always room for improvement on an app. I would like to have more information about the project inside the details page and specifically about the related financial decisions. This of course mainly relies on the existence of relative open data. Having data opened and in a uniform format would also allow to run the app for any country, at least in Europe, and allow the users to compare projects in other countries.
Who is the target group?
Every civilian with a smartphone and an interest on how public money is spent, is in the target group of the app. Public officials could also use the app to get the provided feedback and get a sense of the public opinion and acceptance of the construction works.
From a developing perspective, what where the main challenges you needed to overcome when building the app?
Handling great amounts of data from various sources and trying to connect them into a common data model was probably the biggest challenge. Furthermore, due to the aspect of mobility that comes together with a smartphone, every project should be geolocalised and visualized on a map so as to make it easier for users to discover the projects of interest. Speed and precision in such cases are also imposing some development challenges which we think are managed in a quite successful way.