Author Archives: zachsteffey

Cape Fear Commuter Challenge

Cape Fear Commuter Challenge

My Open Road App


In October 2016 the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization held their first commuter challenge. The commuter challenge ran between October 17th – October 30th and was designed to achieve a variety of objectives which included reducing carbon emissions, alleviating traffic congestion, improving community awareness of greenways as well as public transit options, and encouraging the community to be active. The commuter challenge utilized the My Open Road mobile application which tracks users activities and assigns a social responsibility score with the highest points being awarded for running, biking, and walking. Local businesses participated in the commuter challenge and offered prizes and incentives for the participants with the highest scores. The commuter challenge had a number of positive outcomes including 175 participants, 29,718 miles traveled, 16,038 lbs of CO2 saved, and substantial interest from partner organizations including NCDOT.


Mapping Social Media Posts

Mapping Social Media Posts through ArcGIS Online

Many local governments use a variety of ESRI products for planning, land use development, and public safety. There is now an option to transform citizens user experience to allow for social media posts to be mapped in real time on community maps through ArcGIS online. The potential uses for this technology platform range from local governments being able to create heat maps based on key words, to directly interacting with citizens through retweeting or responding to tweets and other social media posts. This tool was used by various emergency management agencies during Hurricane Matthew to see the types of conditions that citizens were seeing on the ground as the storm was passing through. This tool is beneficial to local governments because most local governments already have access to ArcGIS Online and can therefore implement this concept without incurring any additional costs other than maintenance and oversight of the service.

Balancing Act

Name: Balancing Act

Website Link:

Balancing Act is an online tool that allows citizens to play an active role in balancing their local municipalities budget by working through a simulated budget process. The feedback from citizen input is directly implemented into the local government decision-making processes. There is a lot of potential with this type of process because it allows citizens to reflect on what services are important to them while also gaining an appreciation for the difficult tasks that local government staff face each year during the budget development process. Another benefit of this program is that it can be used by citizens who might not be able to attend a budget meeting or who might not feel comfortable openly offering their feedback on the budget. There is also an option for the program to be used in an in-person budget meeting allowing participants who are not as familiar with using computers to still participate in the budget development process.