MIT Center for Civic Media | Innovating civic media tools and practices together with communities
What's Up is a software platform designed to allow people in a small geographic community to share information, plan events and make decisions, using media that is as broadly inclusive as possible.
The web today does a tremendous job in terms of storing and aggregating information. However, people still need to have access to the Internet in order to benefit from what is available online. Instead, What’s Up provides alternative pathways to get information to people wherever they are, independently of the level of access that they might have to computers or the Internet.
The platform can aggregate data from online community calendars to make the information available via low cost LED signs that can be placed in public locations, or via things like customized paper flyers and posters to be posted and distributed in the area.
What’s Up also generates a simple, yet powerful community hotline that is usable with the lowest-end mobile and touch tone phones. Each calendar event that is inserted into the system automatically receives an unique extension number. By dialing that number, people can find out additional information about the event, get SMS reminders, and be redirected to the organization responsible for the event.
Upcoming versions of What’s Up will provide integration with common social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. They will also collect detailed usage statistics to provide local organizations with better ways to improve the efficacy of their outreach initiatives.
The What’s Up system is currently being tested in the small town of Wisconsin Rapids, as part of a collaboration with the Incourage Community Foundation of South Woods County. The system was publicly launched in June 2012 and can be accessed by going to http://incourageevents.org/ .