Rockaway Connex

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What is Rockaway ConneX?

Rockaway ConneX is a dual-faceted project aiming to mitigate connectivity issues in Rockaway, addressed by the partnership of the Rockaway Business Alliance with Combrr and Connecthings. Rockaway ConneX works to connect the physical world to the digital world, helping you access services and information relevant to the time of day and your geographic location.

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What is the history of Rockaway ConneX?

In June of 2017, the Rockaway Business Alliance was one five recipients of the Neighborhood Challenge Grant, a competitive grant administered by NYC Small Business Services which tasks NYC-based community organizations to team up with technology companies to propose a technological solution to a commercial corridor challenge.
The RBA identified lack of connectivity as a major challenge to the Rockaway business community. There is a wide variety of stakeholders who live, invest, work, and play in the Rockaways. Rockaway is spatially very unique, has specific geographic features that affect the way that stakeholders interact with the space:
  • Rockaway is a peninsula and it is necessary to cross over water to connect to any other part of the city.  
  • The unique features of the boardwalk and the beach are major attractions of the area, but also draw attention from the other assets of the peninsula, such as the business corridors
  • Many summer beach visitors don’t even know that a business community exists is Rockaway beyond the concessions on the boardwalk.
  • Within the RBA’s catchment area (Riis Park -B43), there are several disparate commercial corridors.
  • Among residents there is a very tangible divide between the east and west sides of the peninsula
We want to start to connect these dots.
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How will Rockaway ConneX be executed?

 

Deployment of  smart beacons throughout the peninsula will passively communicate to smartphone users information including local events, business promotions, and public artwork information at more than 100 locations.  Scroll down for more information about beacon technology and how to connect.
In addition to this, Rockaway ConneX supports promotion of the Combrr app, which was conceptualized by locals Justin Harter and Matt Blance-Stephany to offer beachgoers simplified delivery service, effectively connecting businesses on the peninsula to customers on the beach. Combrr allows for beachgoers to order food and goods (think food, sunscreen, beach chairs, bags of ice, etc) directly to their location using GPS and a form of photo identification - a selfie.
Together, these two solutions will address a large portion of connectivity that currently divides the numerous stakeholders who live, play, and invest in the Rockaways - residents, business owners, government agencies, and visitors. These two solutions function independently of each other, but will eventually integrate so that the Rockaway ConneX solution is absolutely seamless.

What will this do?

The Rockaway ConneX digital solution will work to expand connectivity by:

 

  • Increasing access to relevant information, thus connecting visitors & residents to public places of interest, businesses to one another, and Rockaway to the rest of the city.
  • Creating a cohesive branding around Rockaway business, helping businesses develop their digital presence, and making it easier for customers to engage with businesses digitally
  • helping Rockaway embrace state-of-the-art technology and nudging Rockaway towards a more digitally engaged future
  • empowering business owners to use digital platforms to communicate with their consumer base  
  • streamlining information based on locations and needs of consumers
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The Rockaway ConneX digital solution will also work to create additional partnerships and strengthen those that already exist by:

 

  • Partnering with Live XYZ, a recently launched application that, through local partnerships with organizations like the RBA, has created a comprehensive, up-to-date, time-sensitive map of businesses around NYC
  • integrating beacon technology with other local initiatives aiming to address the same problem
  • working with the city to eventually integrate municipal apps with beacon technology (MTA, NYC Ferry, etc.), providing useful information about city services and allowing the city to better reach the Rockaways
  • embracing future technological partnerships between locals, businesses, visitors, innovators, and developers
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Which Rockaway Businesses are currently hosting beacons?

Bungalow Bar, Carvel, CROM, Cuisine by Claudette, Fat Cardinal Provisions, Tsadik G Management, Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy, Lana’s Loft, New Visions High School for the Humanities IV, NYS Assembly Member Stacy Prefer-Amato’s Office, Rockaway Love, Rockaway Retreat House, Spa Rockaway, Station RBNY, The Rockaway Cottage, Uncle Louie G’s, Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach, NurtureU Wellness, Rockaway Roasters, Zingara Vintage, Perfect Piece of the Puzzle, Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach, Mazzone Hardware, Polo Euro Market, Smoothie Haven, Arverne Coworking Space, Life Eclectic, Avoid the Day, Rockaway Candle Co, Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach, Community House, Rockaway Brewing Co
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How do I engage with the beacon technology?

 

1) Android users are able to access the beacon messaging on their phones by turning on their bluetooth and opening up their notifications. Each beacon location will be accompanied by informational signage, which includes a QR code. Iphone users can access this same information by hovering their camera over the QR code.  
2) These beacons are not capable of capturing any personal data, beyond user counts ( how many connections are made). Therefore, all users privacy is maintained.
Addressing any concerns about spam: We describe this technology as pull NOT push -- users don’t receive “push notifications” ; they must actively engage with the technology in order to receive the messaging. For this reason, the marketing component is a major aspect of the project - each beacon will be accompanied vibrant signage, encouraging passersby to engage.
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Will my privacy be compromised?

Beacon technology provides a “gentle push” to passersby, helping them connect to resources in a subtle, non-intrusive way. The only information that the beacons gather are user counts,  so all users privacy is maintained.

 

Why we think this is important:

 

We are interested in this technology and how it can best serve the local business community:

 

  • This is a pilot program, so there will inevitably be trial and error. This is the first real attempt that has been made to bring this technology to New York City -- it’s right here, in Rockaway. This technology has been successful in cities all over Europe - we’re exploring how we can use it to address the unique challenges of this peninsula
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Next Steps for Rockaway ConneX:

 

Next steps:
  • Offering technology to all of our member businesses  
  • Exploring App Integration - Another feature of this technology is that it can be integrated with different applications. When an app is integrated with the beacon network, when an app user is standing within 100 feet of a beacon, the beacon “awakens” the app to provide the user with relevant information. For example, if I was standing at the ferry landing and I had the app on my phone, the beacon would essentially “awaken” the app to let me know that the ferry was running 10 minutes late. Our contract with Connecthings allows us one app integration, so we will be working with our partners at Combrr to pursue this opportunity, effectively connecting the two parts of our project
  • Pursuing permissions to get beacons in public space- The more people we can access, the more effective this technology will be. The spaces that can reach the highest density of people are going to be public spaces, like the boardwalk and the sidewalks of commercial corridors. We are interested in how the beacon network can provide long-term value to various city agencies.
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