Crowdsourcing Community Wellness: Coding a Mobile App For Health and Education
In response to the widely reported increase in obesity and related health problems in the US, a
team of faculty, staff, and students at Bucknell University have authored a mobile app that
incentivizes exercise through the use of crowdsourced public-facing humanities content of local
interest. ReadySetFit, available on both Apple and Android phones, is a completely student-coded
app that leverages a Google Maps platform and the Google My Maps application. (
http://www.readysetfitapp.org) The user can select from a set of walking paths that have been created using the Google My Maps app, which contain points of interest that present cultural/historical information to the user as he or she approaches the physical location of each point. Once a user has reached all points of interest, or manually clicked a button to finish a workout, the distance covered is saved to the handheld device and can be reviewed at a later date.
Key components of the success of ReadySetFit have been the ease of use and the localized
and crowdsourced nature of the information provided. Griffiths and Barbour (2016) argue that the
creation of “smart cities” greatly enhances the sense of place among local citizens. Our university collaboration with a local civic group (The Improved Milton Experience) in the post-industrial central Pennsylvania town of Milton has engaged in local history through crowd-sourcing content for specific points of interest while incentivizing citizens to walk around the town. Users receive rewards and discounts at local shops when they earn “Milton Bucks” by walking on set paths in the borough.
Furthermore, partnering with the statewide system of parks (DCNR) and its “Think Outside” higher-education partnership program has promoted the app to a wide user-base who are already visiting the
parks but who want to know about the history and environment through which they are walking. (
http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Education/ThinkOutside/Pages/default.aspx) Newly launched to the public, ReadySetFit has shown potential to overcome the major obstacle to maintaining an exercise routine–incentive (Harris and Roushanzamir 2014: Conroy et al) 2014. The app’s incentive is multi-dimensional: engaging with new and interesting place-based content in realtime, collecting completed pathways, obtaining fitness levels for financial rewards through local business partnerships, and contributing to the creation of new pathways. Through crowdsourcing content, user participation promotes both individual wellness and community buy-in. The place-based content that is provided to the user is created by members of the community and fosters active engagement in creating a sense of place (Lepofsky and Fraser, 2003). The poster presentation will demonstrate the app itself and also show the process undergone by the students in terms of technology and content development. We will also demonstrate the path creationguidelines that have been shared with local organizations and can be adopted for creating pathways anywhere in the world with cellular data connectivity.
- Conroy, David E., Chih-Hsiang Yang, Jaclyn P. Maher, “Behavior Change Techniques in Top-Ranked Mobile Apps for Physical Activity”, In American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 46, Issue 6, 2014, Pages 649-652, ISSN 0749-3797,
- Griffiths Mary and Kim Barbour. “‘Imagine If Our Cities Talked to Us’: Questions about the Making of ‘responsive’ Places and Urban Publics.” In Making Publics, Making Places, 27-48. South Australia: University of Adelaide Press, 2016,
- Harris,Felicia and Elli Lester Roushanzamir. “#Blackgirlsrun: Promoting Health and Wellness Outcomes Using Social Media.” Fire!!! 3, no. 1 (2014): 160-89. doi:10.5323/fire.3.1.0160.
- Leipert, Beverly D., Belinda Leach, and Wilfreda E. Thurston, eds. Rural Women’s Health. Toronto; Buffalo; London: University of Toronto Press, 2012. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv021.
- Lepofsky, Jonathan, and James C. Fraser. “Building Community Citizens: Claiming the Right to Place-making in the City.” Urban Studies 40, no. 1 (2003): 127-42. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43084177