In 2013, Code for America Fellows Katie Lewis, Dan Avery and Alan Williams worked with the County of Summit and a coalition of the region’s park and trail stewards. At the time, residents who wanted information on the region’s extensive trail network were forced to navigate through a thicket of different websites and PDF maps – each with their own look, feel, and visual language. Between the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Summit County MetroParks and the Ohio and Erie Canalway — trail seekers were left with a frustrating user experience.

The fellows proposed a responsive web application where citizens could find information on any trail regardless of jurisdiction, regardless of the device they use. Nevertheless, this information did not exist in a standard and easy-to-integrate format.

To achieve their goal, the fellows led a broad effort to craft a thorough yet easy-to-adopt trail-related data standard. Supported by the Knight Foundation and led by city contact Patrick Bravo (Deputy Director, Community and Economic Development), fellows worked with core partners at the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition, Metro Parks Serving Summit County, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park to transform and improve existing datasets. They sought counsel from other park and trail stewards in the region, along with stakeholder partners like the City of Akron, Akron Metro RTA and the Greater Akron Chamber. Their commitment to creating this standard not only created a responsive web app with cross-jurisdictional park and trail information, but it also created a standard that will ensure that future contributions from nearby municipalities and park agencies can be folded in.

The project offers a sustainable, human-centered solution for comprehensive parks and trail information while also increasing collaboration across local, state and federal agencies that all share a common mission: to sustain and care for the open spaces of Summit County, while providing recreational opportunities for the citizens of their community. What’s more, citizens get the information they need in a way that ensures they’re spending their day outdoors on the trails, rather than inside pouring over PDFs. To check out the app visit http://trailsy.herokuapp.com/