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Fact Card: Change by Us (NYC)

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Changebyus
What? Started in the summer of 2011, Change by Us is a developed version of Give a Minute, featured in our previous Fact Card. Change by Us is an online bulletin board for New Yorkers to publish their ideas on how to turn the city more greener and turn them into action by creating projects and building teams.

How does it work?

  • Citizens submit ideas which then get registered on a billboard graphic appearing on the website.
  • Based on ideas submitted to the platform, the service then connects visitors, and invites them into project groups. Project groups have their own project page with more information, upcoming events, feedback, etc. Projects can also form connections to existing city resources and community organizations.
  • In July 2011 City of New York invited volunteer-led community groups to apply for a Change by Us NYC grant to fund ongoing projects.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, City of New York officials. The service was created by Local Projects together with CEOs for Cities and it received funding from the Rockefeller and Knight foundations.

Status:
Active. Change by Us is also running in Philadelphia.

Website:
http://nyc.changeby.us

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maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Give a Minute

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Giveaminute
What?
Give a Minute is a platform for public dialogue about improving urban environment. The website acts as a virtual billboard for ideas allowing people to publish direct feedback to their local government by using a public forum.

How does it work?

  • People submit ideas which then get registered on a Post-it graphic appearing on the website
  • Ideas can also be submitted via Facebook or Twitter
  • Suggestions are then funneled to city government who will connect people with similar ideas to action groups organised around potential solutions

Who’s involved?
Citizens, city officials. The service was created by Local Projects together with CEOs for Cities and it received funding from the Rockefeller and Knight foundations.

Status:
Hibernating. The website is up, however latest posts on the Memphis and Chicago billboards date back to 2011.

Website:
http://giveaminute.info

3 Comments

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Spacehive

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Spacehive

What?
Spacehive is a funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects. Like projects featured on Kickstarter, Spacehive has an all-or-nothing funding model meaning projects must be fully-funded or no money goes to the project. Spacehive retains a proportion of the funds pledged as a fee for their service.

How does it work?

  • Registered users can create and gather support and funding for their projects as well as support other projects.
  • Also companies can make cash donations or offer contributions such as materials, employee expertise, or services.
  • Spacehive reviews every project before fundraising can start and requires project creators to provide evidence of the viability of their project. Project Delivery Managers, responsible for the delivery of the project, are required to sign an agreement accepting responsibility for receiving and spending funds raised and overseeing the project.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, Spacehive Ltd. Spacehive has received funding from the BIG Lottery Fund and support from Deloitte, among others.

Status:
Active. The service is currently open for projects in the UK.

Website:
www.spacehive.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: ioby (In Our Backyard)

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

IOBY

What?
ioby is an environmental nonprofit organisation with a a mission to deepen civic engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led and neighbour-funded environmental projects in their local communities with the help of a crowdsourcing platform online.

How does it work?

  • ioby follows the same basic formula as Neighborland, Kickstarter, and many others: Registered users create projects and upload material on the project page to collect funding and get support.
  • Registered users can comment and make suggestions for projects.
  • Donators for ioby projects do not receive any gifts in exchange for their donations. ioby is a not for profit organisation and donators can choose to either pick a project to fund or make a donation directly to ioby. ioby channels the donations forward and a proportion of the donations is used to cover operating costs.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, ioby.

Status:
Active. ioby starter as a local act in New York but went national in April 2012 and is now available throughout the U.S.

Website:
www.ioby.org

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Neighborland

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Neighborland

What?
“I want _____ in my neighborhood” is the starting point for projects on Neighborland, a service for people to share their ideas and insights for improving their city or neighbourhood and supporting their neighbours’ ideas.

How does it work?

  • Registered users can share their insights or support on their neighbours’ ideas or share their own ideas for improving an area and explaining them in detail with text, images, and/or video, and sharing it online.
  • All registered users can support ideas and are welcome to contribute to the idea through comments and suggestions.
  • A community manager (currently only in New Orleans) is working on the field to help feasible ideas happen.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, Neighborland Inc.

Status:
Active. Currently Neighborland is available in a number of cities in the U.S. They plan to open throughout the country during 2012.

Website:
www.neighborland.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Kickstarter

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Kickstarter

What?
Hardly in need of much introduction, Kickstarter is one of the most well-known crowdfunding tools and platforms for projects. After launching in April 2009, Kickstarter has helped fund more than 24 000 projects.

How does it work?

  • Registered users can create projects and run campaigns to fund them by offering rewards to other registered users (backers) in exchange for their donations.
  •  Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum goal of funds to raise. If the chosen goal is not gathered by the deadline, no funds are collected. Project creators often upload video, images and other media on the project site and send updates on the project.
  • There is no guarantee that people posting projects on Kickstarter will deliver on their projects or use the money to implement their projects. Sponsors are advised to use their own judgment when supporting a project.

Who’s involved?
Project creators, backers (registered users can act as both). Kickstarter is run by Kickstarter Inc.

Status:
Active. Currently Kickstarter is restricted to US citizens, but there are ways to go around this. See more information on the Kickstarter website.

Website:
www.kickstarter.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Osallistuva Budjetointi

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

osallistuvabudjetointi

What?
Politicians and public officials are often in charge when it comes to deciding how public money is spent. Unfortunately, the opinions and insight of citizens are often left out. Osallistuva budjetointi is a participatory budgeting project for the new Central library in Helsinki.

How does it work?

  • The project offers the citizens and library customers the opportunity to take part in deciding how a part of the procurement funds (100 000 €) for the new Central library are spent
  • The project will be carried out during autumn 2012. General planning and preparations takes place before a series of workshops, discussions, evaluation and final budget decisions
  • The city library will implement the budget according to its own procurement procedure
  • In addition to including citizens in the decision making process the project aims at opening and visualising the library’s financial data and bringing it forward in an easy to read format

Who’s involved?
Helsinki city library, Avanto insight Oy, Emobit Oy, Sitra, citizens.

Status:
Active, website and project running. Budgeting phase taking place during autumn 2012.

Website:
http://osallistuvabudjetointi.fi

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Brickstarter in the news

As you may have noticed, we’ve been in summer mode during July which means that posting was light. Luckily we had Maija join us before the summer, and she was able to prepare a series of fact cards that have been popping up every week. We started with a survey of initiatives here in Finland and over the coming weeks Maija will be expanding it to look at things happening further afield, perhaps in your neck of the woods.

While Finland has been on holiday, most of the rest of the world has not, which means that things like this are happening:

wired

Tim Maly of Wired wrote up a nice piece on Brickstarter which is run on Wired.com and Wired.co.uk. Dan and I enjoyed the interview with Tim, which took the form of a shared Google Doc, and it prodded us to get down on the page some of our more current thinking about the project. In the coming days we will be updating the Brickstarter introduction post. Here’s an extended bit from that conversation:

Tim: This is my basic understanding of Brickstarter. It’s about creating a platform to allow people to DIY at a neighbourhood level, making it easier for people to engage with city services and bureaucracy. Is it correct?

Bryan and Dan: Brickstarter is about creating a platform to make urban activity easier than urban activism, one that supports YIMBY over NIMBY, and helps us shape and build the city we want, in partnership with our communities and with the city’ administrations. It makes it easier for DIY at the neighborhood level to be conducted in public, and acts as a better interface for people to engage with city services and bureaucracy. Those city services can be in turn shaped by this engagement – so it is a learning platform for the city’s administration as much as its people.

Helsinki, like many cities in the rich world, is enjoying a boom in urban activism presently, from cycling to gardening to recycling to social entrepreneurship. This activism often occurs on the periphery, in the legal gray areas where there’s nothing to mandates a definitive “no”, but also no clear process for how to get an initiative off the ground, how to get a “yes”, and even what a “yes” can be. There’s a mismatch between the kinds of things that citizens are interested in doing today and the institutions that we’ve inherited from the past. This mismatch means our system is leaky, with potential value to society leaking out in a number of ways.

Take foodtrucks for example. When a city gets its first foodtruck there’s an inevitable hiccup as the city’s existing permitting process, its organization, and, really, its conception of the world does not include something shaped like a food truck. Is it a restaurant on wheels? Is it a car that serves food? Is it a tasty piece of street furniture? Do our citizens want this on their (our) streets? Really?

That confusion typically translates into cost to the activist or entrepreneur who ventures the idea first. Unlike the business world where there’s often a first-mover advantage that comes in the form of financial return, there’s not usually much compensation for being the first person to slog your way through a bureaucratic headache. You are working against the grain of the city’s bureaucracy, which can take a long time – hence cost. Most people prefer to forget about it as quickly as possible and get back to the core of their passion, be it the communal garden or local energy production or what have you. What happens in this situation is that the tacit knowledge of how to navigate a particular idea through the system stays tacit and never becomes part of the shared pool of knowledge. That’s ‘leak’ number one. In effect, the same new knowledge is being re-created again and again as different entrepreneurs confront and find their way around the same difficulties. As we know from the boom of the tech community over the last decade, everyone can be more effective if those learnings are shared via public forums, blogs, etc.

To figure out how to make urban projects happen, there can be a huge amount of time and effort spent negotiating with and waiting for yesterday’s decision making apparatus to catch up today’s interests and desires. This is why some of the most exciting urbanism these days comes in the form of pop-ups and temporary installations, conducted parallel to or outside of the institutions of everyday life. In effect, they try to route around the problem, often using decentralised or non-hirearchical forms of organisation – again, familiar from the tech community. So some sidestep bureacracy altogether exploit loopholes and grey areas. Dodging, as it were, the “dark matter” of governance and legislation, that imperceptible substrate that either enables or blocks. Whereas others head into that dark matter, sometimes never to be seen again. So the pop up is a valid tactic, particularly in terms of getting things done.

But what pops up must pop down, and here we find the second ‘leak’ in the system. Pop-ups, when done well, can be a potent way of visualizing and prototyping what Steven Johnson calls the adjacent possible. But by virtue of being outside the system they generally also don’t push the system to adapt in positive ways. Temporary interventions might open the door to the adjacent possible, but they don’t allow us to step through. When pop-ups inevitably pop down the city snaps back to the way it was before, waiting for another hero to come along and show us what their version of the future looks like. They’re a valid tactic but not a valid strategy.

We are interested in “systemic change” – so for us, a popup must change something fundamental or systemic i.e. it must change the rules, the city’s operating system. It must be more than a hack, which simply creates a temporary event – but a rewrite. This is why it is so difficult, of course, as most cities do not think in terms of operating systems, hacks and rewrites. They tend to be more stolid, impermeable.

Brickstarter proposes that a healthy 21st century city has to have a more explicit pathway for citizens to move ideas from activism to activity. This means that we have to make it easier for individuals and groups to make proposals about the built environment, to collect financial and in-kind support for those proposals, to conduct the work in a more public way (so there’s a history or source code that others can learn from more easily), and to make it easier for cities to support initiatives that are aligned with their own strategies. This last point is the third ‘leak’.

As cities face increasingly tough financial situations we predict that they will seek new resources, which means city governments will attempt to encourage particular types of development and activity that reduce direct costs (like involving neighborhood residents in light maintenance in exchange for more say about how their environment is designed and built) or increase shared-value such as enhancing the social capital of a community.

Importantly this shouldn’t be interpreted as being about about savings costs and outsourcing responsibility, but also it provides the city’s administration with a learning engine – and not just on the desires of its citizens (not all of which should necessarily be acted on, of course) but also on the way it needs to *be*. Brickstarter should provide clues as to the attitude, stance and behaviour of a 21st century administration – again, the operating system, as well as the applications that run on it, and then what is created with those applications.

The Wired piece set off a bit of a chain reaction. Grist anointed us saints! That may be a bit much, but it’s nice to see the project resonates with so many people and is another reminder of why we are developing the project as much in public as we can. The Atlantic Cities blog picked it up too. ArchDaily previously asked, Can You Crowdsource a City?

Some of the older posts have been spurring conversations as well. Conducting our research for this project in public means that it can be a more fluid, two way conversation. When we post something like this discussion with Rodrigo Araya, for instance, we find that he replies with a post of his own! Dan’s discussion with Marcus Westbury was also replied to by Marcus himself.

We appreciate this because it gives us a chance to see the ideas reflected back to us by the people that we’re interviewing, not to mention the fact that it’s expanding the reach of our project by introducing it to others and, in Rodrigo’s case, in other languages.

1 Comment

Bryan

Posted by
Bryan Boyer


Fact Card: Talkootarjotin

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

talkootarjotin

What?
Talkootarjotin is an online service for coordinating volunteer work and matching volunteers and projects in need of volunteers. Currently under construction the open source service is, naturally, built by volunteers.

How does it work?

  • Talkootarjotin is a platform where people offering their time and projects in need of workforce can find each other. The service uses the profile information of the registered users to target them with more suitable offerings and tasks they might be interested in
  • Associations, clubs and organisations can administer volunteer work through the service more efficiently. This enables them to organise their resources better and offer more clearly defined tasks at set dates and times which would make it easier for people to commit themselves
  • The volunteers and organisations can give feedback to each others. The feedback is useful for further development and building trust

Who’s involved?
Citizens

Status:
Pre-launch, ongoing development.

Website:
www.talkootarjotin.fi

 

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Joukkoenkeli

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

joukkoenkeli_1

What?
Joukkoenkeli is a new Finnish service for crowdsourcing: a shared collaboration platform for people, businesses, government, and third sector – all together or separately. Joukkoenkeli tries to move from collecting ideas and discussing them to implementing them.

How does it work?

  • Share an idea online, publish it
  • Ideas can be further divided into smaller projects requiring various types of skills/expertise, people can comment on ideas online
  • Invite friends/share projects/allocate resources
  • People start acting or nothing happens
  • Ideas/projects shared on the ‘public’ side are open for everyone to develop and they can be cloned and refined further enabling the diffusion of best practice


Who’s involved?
Founding partners are BOTH Design agency and Avaja Open.

What’s new?
From talking to doing: new web interface that encourages open ideation. Creating networks between projects and knowledge – moving from crowdsourcing to crowddoing.

Status:
Beta launched in April 2012 (pilot projects include Finnoo area development in Espoo and Diakonissalaitos in Helsinki), release estimated August 2012.

Website:
www.joukkoenkeli.fi

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


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