Green Up Day – There's An App For That!

May 1, 2014

Saturday is Green Up Day and volunteers all over Vermont will be picking up trash that has accumulated on roadsides and in other public places. It's a tradition that's unique to Vermont and it's been happening pretty much the same way since the first Green Up Day 44 years ago, when Gov. Deane Davis actually closed the interstate for the event. But this year, volunteers have a new tool at their disposal.

Vermont-based Xenon Apps has created a Green Up Vermont app. Volunteers can use the app to see what areas have already been greened up, and flag any hazards found along the way. They can also communicate with other volunteers through an in-app messaging system. And with just a tap of the screen, the app will automatically map where the user is greening up.

Green Up organizers can also use the app to point volunteers to the areas where they’re needed most.

iPhone users can download the app for free from the App Store. There is also a mobile-web app for other smartphone users.

A group from Xenon developed the app last June during the National Day of Civic Hacking. They set out to solve some of the problems they encountered while greening up, according to the company's website:

We sought to address the core problems we saw and outlined the requirements of the application. We needed: to know what had been cleaned already; a way for staff to notify volunteers of high-need areas; and a way to allow people to communicate with each other. What we created is an application that does exactly this in the palm of your hand. A phone application that shows users, in real time, how green Vermont is getting from their efforts ... In addition to the phone application, we created an administrative dashboard for the Green Up organization to interact with the device users. Allowing them to drop markers on the map to direct volunteers to locations needing more help, as well as to moderate the forum feed for any offensive commentary.

If its use becomes widespread, the app may also solve another problem for Green Up organizers – how to quantify how many miles of roadsides are cleaned and how much trash is collected.