Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park Friday morning to announce Chicago as the world’s first city with its own Foursquare badge, the “Windy City” City badge. The badge is designed to encourage locals and tourists to explore cultural and small business attractions throughout the city.
Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai and I joined Mayor Emanuel to make the announcement. Also joining us were 40 college students from the Chicago Program, an off-campus arts and urban studies program sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.
I originally was scheduled to speak to the students at City Hall, but quickly moved the “classroom” to the Heartland Cafe when the Mayor indicated he planned to visit the 49th Ward to make the announcement.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking website available to those who use GPS-enabled devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at various venues listed by the website. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges.” If a user has checked in to a venue on more days than anyone else in the past 60 days, they will be crowned “Mayor” of that venue, until someone else earns the title by checking in more times than the previous mayor.
If this leaves you scratching your head, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The real Mayor started the press conference with a confession: “I want to be honest,” the Mayor said. “I said to my staff on the way here, ‘What am I doing?'”
I can identify. I purchased my first smartphone last week and I’m still struggling with simply learning how to make calls and send text messages on the darn thing.
The Mayor predicted the badge and partnership with Foursquare would encourage Chicagoans and our visitors to discover and share the City’s neighborhoods and small businesses, such as the Heartland Cafe, which he described as “a community center as much as a restaurant.”
Twenty Chicago locations were picked for the Windy City badge, including the Glenwood Avenue Arts District in Rogers Park, and to earn it users must check in to at least five of the locations.
And as soon as I figure out my new phone, I’ll set my sights on becoming “Mayor” of the Glenwood Arts District!