Thursday, August 11, 2011
Walk around London: Location-based reporting and the UK riots


Christian Binder-Skagnæs was taking a walk through the city, checking out the scene of ongoing riots in London. He came to Oxford Circus, a typically bustling spot, and found an eerie scene.


"The area is dead; everything closed. Very heavy police presence and (apparently) gathering hoodies," he wrote in an iReport he posted about his experience.


His post wasn't like most other iReports. There was no photo, and no video. Just a location, a map point and a short description. As news unfolded, he shifted to new locations and made note of what he was seeing around him. As it turns out, anyone with a smartphone can make a post like this, as long as they have cell phone service.


iReport has a partnership with the location-based Gowalla network that allows you to add a CNN iReport "highlight" to a particular location, which automatically posts an iReport here at via the Gowalla account.


We launched the feature in March at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, but we haven't yet seen anyone use it the way Binder-Skagnæs did. He was taking a tour of the city, adding CNN iReport highlights to locations he visited to tell a little bit about what was going on at each.


If you're not familiar with Gowalla, it's like a lot of other location-based sites in that it allows users to digitally "check in" at places they visit. One thing that's unique about it is users can tag locations with "highlights" that tell users something about a place. The CNN iReport highlight is like a badge that signifies that a newsworthy event has occurred at a particular location.


Binder-Skagnæs visited restaurants, hotels and shopping spots to find out what was going on. Crowds gathered and dissipated, and police made their presence known. Many restaurants in London, like The Ledbury, were closing down. Binder-Skagnæs made note of it all via Gowalla.


"Chefs came out of the kitchens wielding knives," he wrote.


We put up an Open Story about the London riots that allows people to post iReports on the situation in London in real time. Several of Binder-Skagnæs' Gowalla posts appear on the map. They, along with the photos and videos from iReporters and CNN correspondents alike, help show how the news developed.


If you have the Gowalla app, we encourage you to give it a shot. Walk around town and add a couple highlights, especially if you see something interesting going on. If you're in London and happen to be witnessing the ongoing riots, all the more reason to try it out. (But exercise caution and be safe, of course. We don't want anyone to get into trouble!)


We treat these posts just like any iReport, and your submission could become a part of CNN's coverage. And of course, we're still looking for photos and video from the riots, so if you have captured images, you can still share them at CNN iReport as well.


What do you think about these real-time posts, and about the situation in London? Post your thoughts in the comments area below.

1 Comment
August 11, 2011
Click to view larena's profile

nsaidi thanks so much what is happening in London is a wake-up call for The World,

Egypt etc what is going on?

which Country will be next?

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