Apps for Urbanists

iPhone—Apps for UrbanistsAs smart phones get more ubiquitous, so to do location-based apps. Almost every app you download to your phone these days asks to know your location. According to one estimate, there are over  6,400 location-aware application available for the iPhone, and another 1000 for Android devices. I have written before how I think this is a good thing as many of these apps help make my city ‘smaller.’

A few weeks ago I posted about a new crop of mobile apps that enable urban encounters. Recently I came across a post by Matthew Latkiewicz on Smart Blogs that showcases a few more location aware mobile apps. Here are two that will be of interest to urbanists.

Mobile Apps for Urbanists


Abandoned There’s a whole genre of location aware services I like to call the “what should I do now?” apps. They are travel apps for those of us who don’t like planning, or are looking for spontaneity in our own towns. You launch them and they basically give you a list of things around you. Well, Abandoned might take the cake for most bizarrely specific recommendations.

As they write on the iTunes store: “Explore modern day ruins from empty mental asylums to shipwrecks under the Great Lakes. Discover the history and location of dead amusement parks, overgrown hospitals, forgotten hotels and creepy ghost towns.” Yep, launch Abandoned and it will show all the abandoned structures around you, along with photos and a community of other abandoned building enthusiasts. Finally, a reason to use the iPhone flashlight app.

Platform: iPhone.


Intersect — I’m not a New Yorker, but when I’m there, it’s always fun to imagine the stories that have taken place there. Each corner, building, restaurant has seen more than its share of human drama. Intersect gives us the opportunity to make those stories available to each other.

Whether you are in New York or New Mexico, you can attach a story to your location on the map; as well as see the other stories which have been dropped there.  I expect to see a lot more of this sort of location aware narratives, stories and art in the near future.

Platforms: Web,  iPhone

Matthew looks at a few more apps in his post.

Your Turn

What are your favorite location based apps?

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.