Enlisting the Crowd to Create Better Cities

July 28, 2011 By Aminda

Around the world, cities and communities of all sizes are developing innovative methods for generating economic advancement.

In the U.S. state of Maine, the nonprofit organization Island Institute has enlisted members to create the Island and Coastal Innovation Fund. The goal of the fund is to make loans that will jump-start or increase the capacity of island-based and remote coastal businesses, and take an equity position in transformative business models. The $2 million economic-development tool is a strategy for developing collaborative approaches to sustainable economic viability, helping island and coastal entrepreneurs obtain capital to start or expand their businessesAcross the country in California, the community of San Jose has developed a mobile application that, in the words of a city councilman, “has really met my expectations in the fact that it allows me to serve more people more efficiently for less money.”

The application allows residents to photo-document neighborhood blights such as litter code violations and tag them via the phone’s GPS. When submitted, a staff member monitoring the app’s web-based dashboard can review and act on the complaints. It gets rid of the middle man, “the person answering the phone who is trying to figure out what someone is complaining about,” explains the councilman. The problem is better assessed and the right person or team can be sent to solve it.

The city-state of Singapore is asking citizens to take ownership of their future health and recreation needs. Vision 2030 is an initiative launched this month to seek input from everyone in Singapore regarding opportunities in sport that will improve future of the nation, people and communities. Users can contribute input on various categories including the Silver Generation, Spirit of Singapore and Generation Z. A steering committee of 23 members expects to have used the ideas and discussion to put a plan in place by early 2012.

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