The Chip-In team
left: app icon; right: home screen
left: project list view; right: project map view
left: project detail view; right: media view

Planning Team Aims to “Make Service Social” With New Planning App

When Knowlton School students Jake Boehk, Andrew Bowsher, Ashley Hofmaster, Kalindi Parikh and Lia Yakumithis put together an idea for a mobile app for planners as a team-building exercise led by instructor Zach Kenitzer, they had no idea that the project might actually get developed. After winning the class competition, City and Regional Planning Associate Professor of Practice Kyle Ezell suggested that the team submit their proposal to the Innovative Planning Apps for Planners competition hosted by the American Planning Association’s Technology Division. The competition challenge asked students and young professionals to propose web-based and mobile applications that could help the planning profession and the communities they serve. When the students heard about the competition, they recognized the obvious link with their studio project and entered their application called Chip-In.

The Chip-In mobile app allows community members to "chip-in" by volunteering time, donating money, or suggesting community projects in their neighborhood. It enables citizens to get involved within their communities while also providing the tools to "make service social." Users upload photographs of their volunteer projects and post them to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how they are making a difference within their community. Users can even create hashtags to link their projects and motivate others to join. For a look at how the app works, watch their video (linked to in the slideshow above).

According to the team, “[s]ome of the most impactful city planning projects are those that simultaneously improve the physical environment and promote a sense of community. Community projects such as urban gardens, playgrounds, markets, property maintenance and renovations all foster a sense of ownership amongst the people who contribute. However, many of the community projects detailed in city plans never get implemented because of a lack of resources or manpower. Chip-In provides an accessible and exciting solution to these problems, while also promoting pride in communities and getting residents involved in the implementation phase of the planning process. It connects planners and motivated community members to the funds and volunteers they need to accomplish projects while keeping the community engaged on social media.”

Chip-In is one of nine selected apps that will be presented at the 2015 APA National Convention in Seattle in the Innovative Planning Apps for Planners session on Tuesday, April 21 at 9:30 a.m. in the Tech Zone. If you're attending the conference, be part of the action by attending the session. The audience will determine the grand prize winner by voting on applications based on their originality, implementation, functionality and use, quality of presentation and significance to planning. Make sure to follow @APA_Technology and be a part of the conversation using #apps4planning.

Regardless of the outcome of the competition, the team is eager to further develop the app and start offering it in both the Android and iTunes app stores. With help from City and Regional Planning faculty, they’re looking for strategic partners in the Columbus community and additional funding sources at Ohio State and beyond.