Creating Technology for Social Change

How can we find fresh food fast in Boston?

How do you find fresh food in Boston if you’re in a hurry? For many people in the city, it’s not that easy. Over the next few months I’m working on a project with the Mayor’s office of New Urban Mechanics and the Mayor’s Youth Council to figure out how to make it easier, and cheaper to eat well. Find Fresh Food Fast was born out of Sarah WilliamsCrowdsourced City class at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and we’ll be using techniques like crowdsourcing to build knowledge and tools that facilitate better eating for everyone in the city.

So what do we know about the food map of Boston so far? Here’s a map of 246 corner stores in the city that I compiled from two City of Boston datasets – corner stores and healthy corner stores. Right now the data is not very granular at all – and it’s just a simple map powered by a Fusion Table. But that’s one of the most exciting challenges for us and our partners on this project: figuring out what information we need, how best to gather it and how to present it in a way that is dynamic and useful. That could be an awesome set of visualizations, it could be an app, it could be a game, it could be another type of storytelling device – either way, it needs to get Bostonians in a hurry to the freshest food in their neighbourhood.