Beautify Your City – Cleaning Up With Crowdsourcing
Are there actually any streets without potholes? A train station without graffiti on walls and trains? A park path with all lights brightly lit? We all constantly come across these nuisances in our cities. But have we ever done something to counter them? Maybe a few among us even have some cool ideas about how we could make improvements in our own cities. The best ideas often stay ideas because lots of people don’t make the effort to submit suggestions and proposals to the responsible local government bodies.Smartphone apps beautify cities
To find out which parts of a city have become run down many cities, municipalities, and communities have begun to utilize crowdsourcing. For example, the city of Boston developed an app that lets iPhone and Android smartphone-users to directly report problems. Users of the so-called, Citizens Connect App can easily snap a photo of a pothole, graffiti, or of a collapsed tree and simply send it to a city repair team. After the successful transfer of the information the user receives a tracking number, allowing them to follow the status of the repair request.
Hamburg, Germany also employs a public participation app: Nexthamburg Mobile allows city-traveling app-users to rate and publicly announce their opinion on the state of places and buildings in Hamburg. At the moment the Nexthamburg-App is only available to iPhone users. The iPhone geofinder automatically finds the location, and attaches user images or written response about what one likes or dislikes in the city. When the app starts up different categories can be selected, for example: “That’s cool!”, “That stinks!”, “Favorite building” or “Demolition candidate.” After making a selection selection you can attach a photo and/or a short memo to the location report.Pay with ideas instead of money
Copenhagen has started something special to motivate its citizens to become active in designing their city, because not everyone with a good idea has the courage to see it through. The Danish model uses a hot dog stand that should give citizens of Copenhagen the right incentive to come up with some great ideas. At the “Debate Diner,” you don’t pay for your delicious hot dogs with money, but rather with good ideas. “The idea with the debate diner was to try a different way of creating dialog with the citizens of Copenhagen”, reports Lene Bidstrup, communications and project associate. It is otherwise especially difficult to reach the city council meetings and citizen roundtable discussions out to people between the ages of 25-40 years old. “The city is for everyone, and therefore we think that everyone, who has an opinion should have the opportunity to participate,” said Bidstrup.
The “Debate Diner” will be set up in various locations around the city. Sometimes there is a current city problem in a specific neighborhood or area of the city which can easily be solved with input from its local citizens. Setting up the “Diner” in these areas gives participating citizens who are directly affected by the change in their area a chance to discuss their own neighborhood. Bidstrup further explains, “We let the debate come to you and let you participate on your own grounds.” The main principle works – around 3,000 people have participated in only a six month period.