So, you wanna grab a bite to eat. Chances are good that if you live in or near a cool, hipster filled city that a food truck may be close by. Think opportunity!
Another plug for OpenData and a subtle tip and a cool example of what you or your business might consider doing with some opendata, a mapping API, and your favorite coding tools – oh, you might need some pizza, RedBull and beer as well to help inspire you a bit!
I recently stumbled onto a cool mobile food truck app for my city (Victoria, BC) and there’s no reason why you can’t create one for your region. All you need is a little creativity, some handy mapping tools, and most important, some quality open data! Many local and regional governments now host open data portals which means that there’s a TON of data out there just waiting to be mashed up and repurposed into a handy mobile app that provides the locals with some useful information. Case in point, Streetfoodapp, a handy food truck mapping and tracking app now available for iOS and Android. The Streetfoodapp is slowly rolling out apps that are tailored to specific cities and geographic regions, to date there are apps available for Victoria and Vancouver B.C, Canada, Boston, Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax and yes indeed, even Tallahassee Florida (Go Noles!!). I have to assume that the rolout of apps is based on the availability of useful data although this should be relatively easy to locate, albeit I suspect these data are locked up and distributed in a number of formats and providing a real mish-mash of variables.
Streetfoodapp is pretty simple in concept with a Google Maps driven user interface. Load the app of choice and the map is centered on your city. Food trucks are identified by green dots on the map along with helpful data showing time of operation at that location. Trucks can also be viewed in a tabular list form that also displays a user ranking by stars, open or closed designation, and distance from your current location. Finally, trucks can be sorted by popularity or listed as your favorites. View detailed info about each truck and you should see hours of operation for the week, a link to an official website, twitter, and email account. Social sharing options are also provided so you can share with your fiends and networks.
The app is simple but very effective. Can it be made better? Sure it can and that’s where you can jump in – think Opportunity!! I’m always amazed at all the amazing business opportunities that are out there and these days, with OpenData repositories launching nearly every day there’s no shortage of data. Mapping tools, APIs, SDKs are plentiful and the downside for you developers is that the tools are getting to be easier to use, are widely available, and easily accessible to all. This means that you have a TON of competition. The traditional GIS developer has skills in mapping, database design, coding, cartography etc… skills that many "mainstream" developers may be lacking so this is where you can shine. Don’t have an idea yet? No problem, just keep your eyes open and try some of the new mobile apps that we discuss here, on social media, or on my blog and then go put your own spin on the app, make it your own and make it better.
Individual truck info is provided
View all the local food trucks by list
View truck locations on the map
See the streetfoodapp site and their mobile apps at http://streetfoodapp.com/
Note: Try conducting a search of your local opendata portal for business permits. Chances are good that you’ll find information and data that can be used to help launch your app. Case in point, the City of Vancouver has an entire section on their site devoted to food vendors at http://vancouver.ca/doing-business/selling-food-on-vancouver-s-streets.aspx
You may encounter many apps that are similar for various locations around the country, for example, Portland, OR, considered by many to be the food truck capital has a dedicated website with mobile apps, http://www.foodcartsportland.com/maps/ as does the city of Seattle, WA. http://www.seattle.gov/ECONOMICDEVELOPMENT/mobilefood/default.htm