Takin’ It To The Streets

Takin’ It To The Streets

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Roadify is a relatively new mobile social network based around NYC commuting. The basic premise is to notify other users of the actual bus arrival times, as compared to the posted stop times that are often inaccurate due to traffic and other delays. As a member, you either “give” or “get” real time notices that updates the main server. When someone “gives” a bus location, the network is updated and the next person to request [“get”] the bus’s location is notified whether the bus is running late, on time or early. Members can also give/get information on street parking spaces as they become available or even before, if you are about to move your car. In return, members receive StreetCARma Points. You can join different teams that are sponsored by local business and redeem those points for prizes.

Of course, there’s the all-important leaderboard that shows top users, top teams and even shows the “top gives” as pin points on a Google map. Check out how many there are in just a month!

Roadify started primarily as Park Slope, Brooklyn-based and has grown to include all of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island bus routes. And now you can even receive info on subways where cell phone service is available (primarily on the 1-2-3 and A-C-E lines). Roadify now has it’s own iPhone app and is integrated with Facebook and Twitter.

But what’s really impressive about the site’s growth is that early adopters discovered the service through grassroots advertising. Yes, real people, in real life stood at bus corners around Brooklyn, handing out cards and having real conversations with other real people. I was working in Red Hook waiting for the only bus that would take me to my job when a guy handed me a postcard and asked “Have you heard about Roadify?”

Now, as a New Yorker, I’ve generally become immune to people trying to hand me fliers on the street but when he said “real-time bus updates via text messaging” I couldn’t help but pay attention. What’s more is he stood around answering all of my questions with a genuinely friendly and energetic attitude before he moved on. Everyone waiting that morning got a card instructing them to get started immediately by texting the included number. When the bus finally did come nearly all of the boarding passengers were whipping out their phones to start playing the game.

Roadify also goes a few steps further by giving out weekly “trophies” to their  two top givers: a blog shout-out and a laudatory flier posted at the users’ favorite stop. How’s that for bragging rights? Roadify is also a supporter of the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Do-Gooder Award “a borough-wide initiative that seeks to identify and honor those who embody the highest values of community giving and service.”

So far, Roadify has focused on the notion of local community building which is really working. Maybe it will eventually build a national network but for the time being, thinking small is paying off big for them.

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