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LOVELAND Technologies

1514 Washington Blvd
Detroit, Michigan 48226

Michael Evans

By MJ Galbraith
August 29, 2014

Some people discover their passion early in life. When that happens, a young person can zero in on that one thing, turning everything else into white noise, softly humming in the background and easily ignored. Imagine a teenager sitting in the back of their high school English class, writing out lines of HTML code while everyone else is taking notes. Maybe they're skipping other classes, not to goof off with their friends, but to use school facilities to explore their passion for technology. Maybe they're getting kicked out of Cass Tech because of it. It worked for Michael Evans.
He's best known for developing the 'blexting' app for Loveland Technologies and their Motor City Mapping project. It's a smart phone program that revolutionizes how cities keep track of blighted buildings and property. In the depths of the polar vortex of 2014, Michael's app made it possible for a group of 150 surveyors to map over 400,000 properties in 30 days. Detroit can now quantify its vacant and blighted properties and residents can learn more about who's responsible for what in their neighborhoods.
The app is free and available to the public, allowing residents to update or view a listing with relative ease. Was there a fire in a vacant building down the block? Load the app, update the listing, and city officials are then better equipped to tackle blight. It's been so useful that other cities are now looking to adopt the program, including New Orleans, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh.
“Looking at what we deal with, no place has the amount of problems that spring from property ownership and taxes and all these things than Detroit,” says Michael. “If you can solve the problems here, you can take that to other places. It's like tackling the end boss first and then showing other places how to do it.”
Showing people how to use and be creative with technology is another big passion of Michael's. He teaches now, a fact the Cass Tech faculty must smile at. He leads programming courses at places like Grand Circus and hopes to host classes at his own work space at the Department of Alternatives. “The first time you can talk to DPS students and explain to them what a 3D printer is, their minds explode,” says Michael. “It's silent for ten minutes while you explain it, then silence for another two minutes while they think about it, and then the room just explodes with questions.”
PishPosh.TV is another of his projects, one that also sees Michael teaching technology. It's a web-based show that he started with a friend. They gutted the third floor of a Boston-Edison home to build a production studio. They've since moved downtown to the Department of Alternatives and are working on a rather large and impressive production facility. They cover all sorts of topics, from the latest in 3D printing to new technology and product reviews. Michael and his crew are currently demonstrating how to build an old school arcade machine from scratch.
He's been involved in the Detroit tech scene for about ten years now and he's seen how drastically it's changed. There was nothing really happening here in 2004, he says, and Detroit's tech and entrepreneurial scene has improved drastically since that time. Michael no longer has to travel to somewhere like New York to work.
“It's been a while since things have happened in Detroit that have been rolled out elsewhere,” says Michael. “It's a, 'We figured this out here and now we're going to come to you and show you how to do it'.”
It happened with Motor City Mapping. As Detroit's tech scene continues to expand and evolve, it's bound to happen again. Be it Michael or one of the kids at DPS that took his class, it's bound to happen again.

All photos by Doug Coombe.

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