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New mobile site helps guide you to green spaces around Boston (because it may be spring one day...)

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 31, 2011 04:25 PM

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On a beautiful spring day whilst strolling with your pup, wouldn't it be nice to quickly consult your phone to find the closest dog-friendly park?

The team of volunteers that built Boston Green, a new mobile-optimized Web site, want to make that a reality (the park finding, at least — the beautiful spring days seem to be beyond anyone's control). The team, led by Holly St. Clair of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, won one of two grand prizes at February's Boston Hack Day, a weekend-long "code in." The competition, organized by Boston.com and the Boston Globe, brought together small teams to create sites and apps that would make city life better.

The newest version of the Boston Green site went live this week, and the team, which includes Patrick Robertson of the Somerville Web development agency Velir, says that Android and iPhone versions are in the works. They built it using data from the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation and Office of Geographic Information Systems, but they're hoping to collect data from users, too. (The site could really use your help, as many of the listings are pretty sparse.)

"We look at this as giving users a framework to start contributing information," says St. Clair. She says she has been talking with the non-profit Boston Park Advocates to get that group involved, too.

Already, the app includes listings for 17,000 open spaces and parks in more than 36 neighborhoods and cities, and the goal is for it to direct you to amenities like tennis courts, soccer fields, urban gardens, or public art installations, as well as serving as a guide to special events like concerts and festivals.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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