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Getting to the Bottom of Notifications

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2005, at 11:56PM

I went to DLANC's Business Development, Sports, Conventions & Tourism Committee meeting tonight. This isn't one I'm on, but a guest from the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation was on the agenda and given my recent complaints I thought it worth my while to go and participate. Particularly I was interested in asking them about notification; it's required by law but recently I feel I haven't been seeing it. The response I got was encouraging, though not an instant fix.

Present from the EIDC were Steve MacDonald and a lady whose name I can't remember (I'm awful with names... I have Steve's from his card). Filming is always a complicated issue Downtown, so obviously they got to deal with a good percentage of complaints about excessive street closures, etc, that they really can't do anything about. The city gives the permits, the EIDC just turns in the forms for the film companies.

That said, though, notification is something that as of recently the EIDC is once against responsible for. They were receptive to my concerns, and described how the process works and how occasionally notifications fall through the cracks, since the EIDC isn't allowed to actually go in and hang notices inside multi-unit buildings. I understand the steps of the process, and I see where things happen.

But that's not good enough.

What I really want to see is a central location (ie the EIDC website) where individuals can go, fill in their address information, and see all notifications for their area. Basically I want the process disintermediated; I want to be able to get the information directly from the EIDC, and I want anyone to be able to do it at any time, without having to be signed up ahead of time.

The response I got was along the lines of "Hey, we'd love to do something like that, but we just don't have the money. We have a hand-me-down ten year old permit system and it doesn't do any of that."

And you know what? That's a perfectly acceptable. I understand that the EIDC is a non-profit and doesn't get any city funding. When I hear that an agency is open to doing something via the web, but doesn't have the money, that's when I get interested. I'm all about finding ways to do cool things on the web for cheap.

I think it would be really cool to be able to go to the EIDC site, fill in my address, and see notifications. I think it would be even cooler to then subscribe to the information as an RSS feed, and automatically see new notifications show up on my feed reader. And I think it would be easier more amazing to be able to subscribe to the information as an iCal file, which would then show up automatically in my calendar and potentially even get sync'ed to my phone or PDA. And you know what? None of that's hard. There's a lot of stuff right now that if you do it right it looks a bit like magic, but it's really just not that hard.

I'll follow up with Steve soon and see what we can come up with. This is another one of those things I have a interest in seeing work if for nothing else than so I could use it. But I figure that if I get something working in a way that seems really cool and useful to me, it may just be cool and useful to a lot of other people too.

Or at least that's the theory...

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