Local mobile game/network Foursquare and the SF Bay Area transit authority BART have partnered to encourage public transportation usage:
Bay Area Rapid Transit has become the first transit agency to partner with the location-based mobile network Foursquare, with the goal of encouraging public transit use.
Foursquare combines social networking elements with game mechanics, urging users to explore neighborhoods and recommend places to others. You can check in from different venues and earn badges and points for doing different types of things – like a “gym rat” badge if you check in 10 times at a gym during a 30-day period. As part of the partnership with BART, Foursquare will offer a BART-themed badge that can be unlocked by regular riders of BART, which provides train service in the San Francisco Bay Area. BART will award $25 promotional tickets each month for the next three months to riders chosen at random from all the riders who have logged Foursquare check-ins at BART stations, starting in November.
One popular element of Foursquare is a competition to become “mayor” of different places. If you check in more than anyone else, you claim rights as “the mayor” of that place. Regular BART riders already are trading back and forth as “mayors” of the 43 stations.
Foursquare was co-founded by Dennis Crowley, who was one of the founders of Dodgeball, which Google acquired and then shuttered a few years later.
Foursquare has a devoted local following and is gaining visibility and traction among certain user groups. It’s also being used as a marketing platform by some local businesses (promotions to Foursquare users). The competitive, game-like element is at the heart of the appeal and what makes it different from other local platforms/networks/directories.