PatchUp (previously Flaster) is a platform for hyperlocal reporting. It’s a side-project lead by enthusiastic people who want to change the environment they live in. We designed the first iteration of the product for “Dan D” International Design Competition, whose theme was design in the context of cities. That resonated with some of our previous ideas, and we had to apply. We only had a couple of weeks to design and develop the app, our website, create branding, and prepare everything for the exhibition. And we made it. We were the overall winners of Dan D!
Since then, we made improvements and released a new version recently with a new name and broader market in mind.
Cities are places we identify with, they are participatory, multicultural and open. Hence, they are constantly in motion, evolving and changing. Local governments play a crucial role in solving challenges people and cities are facing because, unlike state government, they are more tangible and connected to their citizens. Therefore, they have to be agile and communicate with citizens to bring out solutions to everyday challenges fast and efficient.
PatchUp mobile app allows cities to come straight to their citizens and engage them in a meaningful conversation that leads to shaping the best living environment.
PatchUp is dedicated to the democratization of the information exchange, by linking citizens together and shifting their participation from pure consumption of the city to the cooperation with local governments in creating vibrant cities that satisfy their needs and change their experiences.
We believe in the open data approach. Everyone should be able to use data and be able to build services on top of it. Project PatchUp aims to decentralize sources of information and to become an alternative database of cities, open to citizens, non-profits, and other organizations.
With the big idea in mind, we had to start small which meant building a crowdsourcing platform that would offer relevance from the local perspective. We decided that the first iteration of the service would allow people to report problems they see in their neighborhood, whether it’s a broken pipe, too much litter on the street, or something even bigger than that. PatchUp then addresses the reported issues to public services responsible for solving them. People are given the opportunity to comment and vote for best patches, which makes PatchUp platform a place for public discussion.
Content is the interface
We knew that the app has to be simple and engaging. The most common use case was people walking through the city and needing a quick way to report something.
From that came the idea of using map as the interface. Right after people open the app they should see their current location and be able to report a problem using one hand.
There are three main views in the app: map view, list view and report view.
Map view has three actions on top of the map - report button, list mode and settings. Patches are show on the map and can be opened from there.
List view shows all the patches visible on the currently selected part of the map. From there you can view patches and vote for them. Up-voting pushes items to the top of the list and makes them more relevant.
We focused a lot on the process of reporting. Like elsewhere in the app, all the actions are at the bottom of the screen for easy access with one hand. You can type the message and add a photo. Photo becomes a background of the patch and you can always see it by tapping anywhere on the screen. If the location is wrong it can be adjusted from here as well.
Messages were limited to 400 characters so we had to find a way to let users know the limit as they type. We came up with a custom in-line text input indicator that shows number of characters on its left.
We won a couple of design awards and were featured in the biggest design exhibition in Croatia, where we won an award for the best interactive design project in 2013/2014. There was a lot of interest in PatchUp and a lot of enthusiasm around the concept.
We’re are currently working on a new version of the app, conducting user research, and talking with Cities. We want to hear more about the challenges they're facing, the kind of products and technologies they find useful and the ways we can iterate on the product to meet those needs.
You can download the latest version of the app from the App Store.