Dan Cogan, Chief of Staff, City of Ithaca
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Student contact

Avinash Thangali, <>


This project is intended to promote prosocial behavior in the City of Ithaca through gamification, and was inspired by the Bike Angels for Citi Bike.

The Problem

After a big snow storm, the City of Ithaca’s Department of Public Works is focused on clearing snow from the streets so that emergency vehicles can access the entire City. During this process, the corners of intersections get plowed in with large mounds of snow, making it difficult for pedestrians, and especially difficult for people with strollers, wheelchairs, and the mobility impaired, to use City sidewalks for transportation after a snow storm. The icy snow is difficult to clear once compacted by snowplows, which often make multiple passes, plowing in corners that were cleared earlier.

The Solution

Create an app that awards points for clearing corners as quickly as possible after a storm and keeping them clear. There should be a leaderboard so that people can keep track of their standings. We could consider awarding prizes after each storm. There could be daily high scores, high scores per storm, and high scores per season. There are already people who take it upon themselves to shovel out corners because they want to make life better for their neighbors. This app should build on those prosocial tendencies and amplify them through gamification.

Other Ideas

There are approximately 500 intersections in the City, many of which have multiple sidewalk crossings to clear. Perhaps people could sign up for notifications about particular intersections and other people could use the app to report when those intersections were obstructed. One challenge is how will the app know when a corner is available to be cleared and therefore contribute to a score, and how will it know when someone has cleared the corner? Perhaps people need to take before and after photos and then the photos are sent to other participants who have agreed to be judges? The app could give tips on the proper tools and techniques to use to clear corners effectively.