BH: We created Crowdmap so people could just play around with it, because it takes so little time to get a deployment going. For instance, with the deployment [of problems on the Metro system], we didn’t really think to do that. So it’s those types of innovative uses that we’re really looking forward to seeing, that we can then share with other organizations. [News organizations] can track whatever’s important to each community. Tracking public transit in rural Kentucky, where I am, is probably not very important, for instance.

LK: How would you want your local Kentucky paper to use Crowdmap?

BH: In general, using it to report potholes or litter or something like a “311.” [The city of Ann Arbor does something similar.] I think this is a good tool for doing that—as long as a partnership exists with the government entity that would be responsible for cleaning it up. Otherwise, you’re just submitting a report without knowing that anybody’s going to read it. So as long as I knew there was a partnership in place, I would be using the tool myself.

Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner