App to fight blight beta now testing in three local neighborhoods

Binghampton Development Corp. has developed a new Memphis Parcel Survey iPhone app that records code violations, and BDC Executive Director Robert Montague hopes it will have a broad impact on communities looking to fight blight.
"The app uses GPS, your mobile device's camera and the underlying property database to give neighborhood-based organizations an ability to take a problem property census of their neighborhood," says Montague, who describes the app's interface as "simple, quick and user friendly."

"You can drill into each property, with a history of pictures and notes on each one. Our intention is that you would then pick your most critical handful of projects and pursue them through code enforcement or direct interaction with the owner."
BDC is leading the project, working with local software developer Peter Van Wylan and Service Over Self (SOS), which does home repair work in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The last census measured blight in Binghampton at 17 percent of the properties.
"SOS has worked on a couple of hundred homes in the past decade, and we've renovated or built close to 100 housing units, so the blight situation here is clearly improving," Van Wylan says.
The Memphis Parcel Survey app is available now on iTunes in a beta/pre-commercial version, operating in a test mode in Binghampton, The Heights and Uptown.
"These are all areas where we think is there opportunity and where there are active community-based organizations that have an interest in using the tool," says Montague.
The Hyde Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis supplied seed funding to support a one-year pilot, and Livable Memphis is also using the program to log sidewalk issues.
By Michael Waddell