Design Street Sections with Streetmix

Published September 17, 2013 by Jessica Lord, GitHub

Streetmix is an open source civic web application (that means no install; it’s all online) with its code on GitHub (here’s the repository). It was created by a handful of 2013 Code for America fellows each on different teams, who came together to solve a problem.

This problem was something fellow and urban designer Lou Huang had often seen in community meetings. City planning departments are required to engage the public in their decision making, but often it’s hard for residents to find time to attend, the city lacks the tools to properly illustrate complex urban systems and residents aren’t always able to learn enough about the systems to make informed suggestions.

Enter Streetmix - a rapid (and beautiful) prototyping tool for creating urban street sections that also teaches users about parts of a street. For the techies: the frontend is written in JavaScript, the backend is in Node.js, MongoDB serves up the data and the site is hosted on Heroku.

With Streetmix city officials can use the site during public meetings, residents who can’t attend meetings can visit anytime, illustrate what they’d like to see and email it in or share their creation through social media. It has even been used as an internal tool for creating street sections in planning departments.

The team has developed in the open since day one and have received quite a bit of press (Streetsblog, Atlantic Cities) and pull requests to the repository with ideas and enhancements. Over 70,000 street sections have been created by thousands of users.

Next they’re working on turning designs in Streetmix into data city officials can use to inform their decisions; such as “75% of sections created at the public meeting included a bike lane on Main St.”

Stay up to date on the project by following the repository.

Contribute

See an error or have a story of your own to tell? This page is open source, so submit a pull request!