LouieLab opened on December 1, 2016.
It’s a new collaboration between Louisville government and the people. It’s designed for use as a coworking space, so government and people can work on specific projects together, like the Civic Data Alliance‘s hackathons through Code for America.
At the opening, two tech projects were demonstrated:
- Smart Louisville, the city’s next-level open data interface
- CASPER, the smoke alarm detector with a built-in 3G signal
Volunteers from the Civic Data Alliance built the interface between Amazon’s Echo Dot (“Alexa”) and various city data interfaces (“APIs”).
I was a (minor) part of the team that put all of this together. Most of the work was done by Reydel Leon, with lots of input from Michael Schnuerle (the city’s first Data Officer), Ed Blayney (who just won a Navigator Award for his work on SpeedUpLouisville), Matthew Gotth-Olsen (who manages LouisvilleKY.gov, and was once in a hardcore band), and others.
As it turns out, the most common 3-1-1 call is to find out about junk pickup day. Soon, anyone in Louisville with a Dot can just ask it, “Alexa, when is junk pick up day?”
The volunteers also have developed the interface to programmable light bulbs that can change color and intensity based on pre-selected options. That way, for example, the bulb could:
- turn yellow to warn allergy sufferers during high pollen days
- flash red during a tornado warning
- flash through a full cycle of colors in time to a dance beat (although my theoretical ‘disco mode’ seems unlikely to ever get developed)
- …and many more, in fact, the city would love to hear your ideas on useful interfaces
Where There’s Smoke
CASPER (the Completely Autonomous Solar Powered Event Responder) was developed by local makers Nathan Armentrout, James Gissendaner, and David Jokinen at the LVL1 smoke alarm hackathon a year ago. It listens on the standard smoke alarm frequency band (so that it should work with any variety), and makes a wireless call to alert the authorities. It’s primarily in use right now at vacant and abandoned buildings, since fires at a vacant building spreads to neighboring properties 80% of the time. The city of Louisville has several in use now, and plans to roll out many more. Other cities are also expressing interest.
Here is some press coverage of the opening:
Other Nifty Tech Stuff
Here in Louisville, we’re also founding a chapter of the VRARA (Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality Association). We had dozens of people at the kickoff meeting last week.
Warp Zone, our video game creating coworking space, just had another successful Ludum Dare game creation weekend.
The KY Science Center just ran another three-day Celebration of Coding event, aimed at getting youngsters involved in software.