Alight : enriching bus rides with user-generated, location-based audio content
Author(s)Wang, David Chin-Fei
Enriching bus rides with user-generated, location-based audio content
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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The advent of mobile data, social networks, and sharing economies have disrupted the way we experience place. Whereas many projects of placemaking have focused on a top-down, centralized discourse of landmark-making, I propose that the digital tools available to city planners, urban travelers, and business people allow for a decentralized digital space in which placemaking can rapidly occur. In this maker-thesis, I have built a mobile app, Alight, which delivers location-specific audio narration to riders of the MBTA's public bus system. Assembling a team and working iteratively over the course of six months, I have documented how the product was developed and the user responses to elucidate the practice of distributed, digital place-making. Analyzing the responses from these users, I show that using Alight to enhance the experience of a bus ride reveals strong parallels to physical placemaking of event-places. The Alight app demonstrates important new directions for the practice of urban placemaking. It illustrates how digital tools have become so accessible that planners and designers would be remiss to not begin to leverage the influence they have. The low marginal cost of implementation also provides a new platform through which economic development can happen along transit lines in areas between transit nodes that are not typically frequented. The app's user-generated content functionality also provides a platform for often underrepresented voices to share their stories of place, history, and community with riders of transit. This maker-thesis should always be read and used with the app in-hand. This written document only represents half of the output of an ongoing project that will continue to grow. The app can be downloaded on the Google Play Store.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2018.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 101-107).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.