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May 6, 2011
Relational Trends: An App that Leads to Water
 
Talk about relational communities — we've found an app that leads to drinking fountains, eventually everywhere, once the followers line up to extend it. This app business is becoming astounding. Have an idea for a community, like getting a good drink of water almost anywhere? Create an app for it, and apparently they will come. WeTap looks like a great example of an app-propriate new PR trend. 

In this case, the man with the idea was Dr. Peter Gleick, "a water expert and president of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on sustainability." He joined with Google to use the GPS feature on Android phones to locate drinking water fountains  and not only that, to include "photos and details on the fountain's condition." 

Government Technology, the source of this refreshing information, explains that while Gleick was "writing his book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, it occurred to him that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find clean and functioning public drinking fountains. The app is an attempt to fill that knowledge gap." Be open to ideas, friends, and one will come!

"WeTap uses a smartphone’s GPS system," Government Technology continues, "to automatically record the user’s location. The user can then input information on water taste, temperature, flow and other criteria. Currently the app is only available for those with Android smartphones. iPhones, etc., can't be far behind.

"Gleick explained his organization partnered with Google for WeTap’s development because the company offered developer time for free, which fit in with his vision for the app."

Now here's the "mass movement" part of it: "Twenty-four beta testers have been mapping public drinking fountain locations as of Thursday, May 5. Gleick said the beta test area was originally limited to Berkeley, Calif., but testers have begun mapping drinking fountains in big cities like Washington D.C., and Cleveland, Ohio.

"Gleick has noticed that users in California are starting to get competitive about mapping, especially in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.

“So we’ve decided we’re going to expand mapping a little bit to cover the Bay Area and Los Angeles and spur a little north-south [rivalry],” he said."

So find something that people care aboutl, get an app for it, and you're in a new relational world. Right on!

Here's another one we just noted: The San Ramon Valley Fire Department in California has an app - "Fire Department" - that only works within its 155-square-miles area, but advises iPhone users within 500 fit of a heart attack victim that he or she needs CPR, urgently. Users of the app have to indicate that they are CPR trained and willing to assist during an emergency. But they don't need formal CPR certification to receive alerts.

When the fire department's dispatchers enter 911 "CPR assistance needed" alerts into San Ramon's computer-aided dispatch system, Government Technology reports, they also go to the Fire Department app. There's more on the app than the CPR alerting service, and it's been downloaded by 300 to 500 people a day since it came out in January. Another app relational community forming.


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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