Have you ever wandered down the streets in a new place, wondering what you haven’t discovered yet? What is it that the locals know that you don’t? Who has the best donuts? And what is the easiest way to find out?
Let me introduce KERB!, an interactive network of information within an area that allows neighbors and visitors to “discover, connect and engage” in the community around them. The simplest way to describe KERB! is a series of interactive screens spaced throughout a geographical area which are curated to provide users on the street with a variety of information – how to get from point A to B, the weather, quick polls to get opinions, access to emergency services, and most importantly what is available around them. The options are limitless and the KERB! team can “create and develop richer physical experiences using real-time location, monitoring, cloud connectivity and communications to and from the point where it actually happens”.
Bill Clem is the man behind the idea and the Chief Engagement Officer of KERBspace. I first met Bill during a demonstration of a product he had developed to address parking management in urban areas. Although an intriguing idea, the complications of implementation and other challenges prevented us from moving forward with discussions. About three weeks ago he was back in town – with a different idea he had developed after taking feedback and input from those he had presented his previous idea to. I chose Bill for this interview as he is one of the few people I have interacted with who took our feedback to heart and came back with something that addressed the problems we were facing.
KERBspace disrupts an existing market (wayfinding) but adds features that make it entirely new. As the Director of Marketing and Communication at the Alliance for Pioneer Square (a neighborhood business development organization), I am the target market for KERB!. Other target customers include municipalities, departments of transportation, community groups, merchant associations, chambers of commerce, and business development areas. The marketing channel is not something they have developed yet as they are still focusing on validating their hypothesis with their potential customers. They are aware of some of the challenges that they will face at that point – one of the issues we discussed was automation and how to make the product as turnkey as possible.
At the closing of the interview, Bill and I discussed keeping people involved in the area, the advantages of walkability, and the importance of both social and cultural engagement. This focus on individuals and human interaction, coupled with his ability to separate what customers and users say they want versus what they actually want give me high hopes for the success of this project.