Mobile Donations and Tour Guides


The other day I was showing my big brother (who was up visiting from behind the Orange Curtain in Southern California) around San Francisco and we passed by one of the Windmills in Golden Gate Park. The nice one to the North, not the broken on to the South. That's when I noticed a big sign for The Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills which had a phone number to call etc. Now thanks to blogging and Google, I have a reason to both remember this sign and a way of finding more information about it. However, if I didn't have a mobile brainstorm while sitting there in front of the sign, I wouldn't be doing either of the above. I would have clucked my toungue, tsked at the shame that I couldn't help, ignored the phone number and gone on my way.

But what would've been much better is if I had a way of sending money - even a small token amount of even $1 - right then and there from my mobile phone. A quick premium SMS message and bam, I could've helped a monument that easily gets hundreds of vistors a day, but very few donations. Imagine if that sign had the SMS short code of a well-known company where you know that by sending a message to that number, you'll only get charged a small amount and that it will go to its intended recipient. Sort of like how Amazon Donations work now online, but for the REAL world, not the virtual world, and via your mobile. Better than a phone number (who really calls?) or a donation box (because it works remotely and 24-7), a system like this could be a real boon for under-funded public destinations like parks and city monuments.

The other thing that's desperately needed is mobile city tour guides like the one in Spain I wrote about back in May 2003. I should be able to drive around a city with a guest (as those of us here in San Francisco are known to be doing at least two or three times a year) and if I need to know more history about a specific location, or just have a well known mapped route, have it accessible on my mobile. Though I can imagine all the cool multimedia it could have, honestly it doesn't have to be that complicated at first. Ever read one of those glossy Eyewitness Travel Guides with all the maps and pictures and snippets of information? Just take that info and put it online in a little XHTML web site, charge a little money for it (like $3) and BAM, killer mobile app.


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