The city is a platform

Panel session: Ben Berkowitz (SeeClickFix.com), Assaf Biderman (MIT Sensible City Lab), Dustin Haisler (City of Manor, TX), Jen Masengarb (Chicago Architecture Foundation), John Tolva (IBM Digital & Corporate Citizenship)

Gartner report: within 10 years, 20% of non-video traffic on the Internet will originate from sensors in the built environment. Huge amounts of unstructured data are being generated throughout the urban landscape.

Idea from Biderman: how can we bring the same level of intelligence we have in the supply chain to the removal (waste disposal) chain? Tag your trash: a way to study the flow of garbage and raise people’s awareness of the consequences of their behaviour and choices.

SeeClickFix: a platform for community members to report any type of infrastructure or service problem. Goal is not just to report problems, but to get people involved, identify opportunities to volunteer or participate in fixing problems. Beyond 311 – an open data approach. Citizens can add their community and sign up their public officials.

Masengarb: communication within the built environment – promote understanding of why decisions have been made, rather than just posting a sign that says “no skateboarding.” Also introducing architecture education into the high school curriculum, creating teaching tools, with the goal of promoting understanding of how change can be initiated and problems can be solved.

Manor Labs: “a FourSquare for government” – participation is incentivized with “innobucks” that can be earned by contributing, voting on, or commenting on an idea. The game mechanics approach has attracted participation well beyond the community itself. Ideas go through stages (incubation, validation, emergence) based on user feedback. Promotes transparency – if an idea can’t be implemented, city officials have to publicly explain why.

Scalability: Manor is a small community. Berkowitz sugggests starting small – get people started reporting potholes, then try to engage them further.

Example of a sign posted at an empty building lot asking people to vote with their cell phones for one of four land-use choices (Taco Bell, dollar store, condo units, nail salon).

Toronto shout-out! Closing remarks about civic engagement are illustrated with a video of David Miller riding a bike in Copenhagen.

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