Thanks to everyone that came out on our Critical Fruit Mass this past Sunday. This ride lets us touch upon what’s been going on in the Concrete Jungle, because it sort of caps off June and leads towards things really getting under way.
One of the big things we’ve been working on is being able to crowd-source our fruit tree database by letting people add fruit trees they know about. We’ve had this feature on our normal food map for most of this year, but we haven’t really talked about it much, so here’s the official announcement. Right…here.
Despite its quiet introduction, it has certainly taken off with the right people, as our fruit tree database has grown by leaps and bounds this year. After going through some old backups of the site, we prepared the chart on the left showing numbers of public and private fruit trees in our database. The dashed vertical lines represent dividing lines between years, and the ticks don’t correspond to anything except when we had a backup.
As can be seen from our map, it is still extremely centered on northeast Atlanta, with some slight progress west and southward, and our increase in fruit trees is really just filling in a lot of gaps. If we extrapolate our covered area as roughly 1/5th of the perimeter, there would be 4000 fruit trees within the entire perimeter. Whether or not that’s an accurate guess is another matter, but it’s exciting nonetheless.
And to help find all those trees, we’re making good progress on getting a mobile interface going. We had such an interface at one point, and the time spent loading code require to display the map killed any functionality it may have had, as you would sit there forever and then it would display the wrong location. Google has made leaps and bounds in improving mobile access in version 3 of their maps API, and relatively large amounts of code load quickly and responsively.
Currently the webpage geolocates your device and places a draggable marker on the map. You can then place it over your tree, click the marker button to edit its info, and upload it to our server. We’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it’s been working very well. The draggable marker allowing you to add trees that you aren’t standing right next to, or if the geolocation doesn’t quite grab the best data.
For now, we’re probably going to stick with a web-based map rather than a native app. For one, it prevents us from having to code for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc. And there’s no app approval process to go through.
The downfall is that your phone has to connect to the Concrete Jungle server, download some code, interpret the code, talk to the server again, and then receive the map tile data just to render a map. A native app would allow for much less back and forth, which might prove useful for remote fruit/nut tree locations. We’re hoping that since we’re picking mostly urban produce it’s possible that we’re never too far from a cell tower and the increased latency is no big deal. We’ll know in a bit, as we’re pushing to have this public within the month, as well as start regular picking schedules again by next weekend. Stay tuned!