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Out & About • December 11, 2014

This happens to me a lot. I’m out walking, I’ve parked my car, or I’m crossing a parking lot. Something is wrong—someone’s window is open and it’s raining, they have an iPad sitting on the front seat in plain view, or they’re in a spot that will definitely get them ticketed (the third was all too common on UGA’s campus). I know there’s something wrong, but there’s no way for me to tell the owner of the car! I feel helpless. So, to assuage some of my anguish, I designed an app that could solve this problem. It’s called “Out & About.”

The gist is pretty simple: You see something amiss, and look for a barcode on the back of the car. Scan it, and you have the ability to send a quick text to the owner. There are no names, no personal information attached. This is meant to limit harassment as much as possible. I used to think, “wouldn’t it be great if everyone just tacked a phone number to their car somewhere?” Well, I could see that going south fast. This app would protect the identities of the users, but still provide a useful service.

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Here’s a little logo on the left, designed to look like a road. On the right, the red arrows would signify incoming messages, and the blue would signify outgoing. A red dot means it hasn’t been checked yet. The messaging feature itself would be simple. Just a note from me to you, and the ability to quickly reply a “thanks!” if warranted.

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If you’re the chatty type, and want to respond with more, there’s a space to send a message back. And, to further prevent harassment, I added a quick “BLOCK” function—so, if someone says something rude, you don’t have to deal with it.

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And, below: A little animation of the scanning function, also a car-shaped barcode, because of course! It would be simple, and unassuming. Nothing gaudy or distracting to other drivers.

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The app is meant to lend a hand to strangers, not antagonize them. This isn’t a social network, it’s supposed to be a simple, user-driven alert system. I used to live in an apartment that was ruthless about towing people—I wish I could have alerted everyone to stay away!