Collaborative Platforms Empower Citizens To Shape Their Communities [My Ideal City]

Collaborative Platforms Empower Citizens To Shape Their Communities [My Ideal City]

Participatory online platforms and visual tools help gauge and meet the actual needs of the population.

  • 26 may 2013

Participatory online platforms and visual tools are lowering the barriers to participation and empowering citizens to design their communities. These crowd planning systems facilitate an open dialogue between city agencies and the people they serve, establishing a structured process for collaboration and encouraging a higher level of participation at the civic level. By seeking input throughout the development process, these crowd-planned systems help ensure greater transparency and buy-in that ultimately results in an end solution that meets the actual needs of the population.

Winka Dubbeldam, celebrated architect and principal of Archi-Tectonics, has most recently lent her expertise to a crowdsourced plan to revitalize Bogota, Colombia called MyIdealCity. She told that the future of urban planning is in crowd planning:

Initiatives of governing institutions that tap into the local intelligence will greatly enhance the public’s participation, and will help get a much more direct , real-time response that can adjust to the new directions of peoples’ needs. This demands an understanding of the word intelligence in the wider sense and a real commitment of the governing bodies in actually giving immediate feedback, and executing all.


An example of this type of participatory platform is Neighborland, which aims to bring people of the same community together to develop projects that will improve their neighborhood. The website allows people to share their ideas for improvement and gather support from people in the community. Once an idea gets enough support, and community members decide it is achievable, they can work together on the site to accomplish the idea. Similarly, the NYC-specific online platform miLES  facilitates bottom-up urban planning by co-creating with residents of specific neighborhoods.


Dan Parham, designer and co-founder of Neighborland offered this thought on how crowd-planned initiatives can positively impact urban environments:

What if residents could easily share their ideas for improving their neighborhoods? Could these ideas help community leaders, entrepreneurs and developers better meet the needs their communities? Can presenting this data in a transparent and friendly way help shape the development of a neighborhood — or at the very least, provide a new form of public accountability?

Examples of crowd-planning can be found in South America as well. In Bogota, Colombia, the Combo 2600 is a youth group making the city more fair and enjoyable through spreading knowledge of the city and collective action.

By seeking input throughout the development process, these crowd-planned systems help ensure greater transparency and buy-in that ultimately results in an end solution that meets the actual needs of the population.


Q: What improvements should the community come together to decide about your neighborhood?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #CitizenSourced


Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imagining the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas using the hashtag of the week and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.


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