menu

Crowd Planning Brings Collaboration Into Urban Design [My Ideal City]

Crowd Planning Brings Collaboration Into Urban Design [My Ideal City]
Design

PSFK chats with John Geraci of DIYCity, about how crowd planning is impacting city development.

PSFK Labs
  • 26 may 2013

As part of our series looking at the future of cities, PSFK reached out to experts to get their take on key trends we’ve identified that are currently affecting urban environments. John Geraci is the founder of DIYCity, a site where people from all over the world think about, talk about, and ultimately build tools for making their cities work better with web technologies. He spoke with PSFK.com about how crowd planned solutions are lowering the barriers to participation and empowering citizens to design their own communities.

Why is it important that citizens play an integral part in planning their cities?

A city’s residents are the only ones who really get the problems and challenges of cities at the first person level.  They’re ‘the man on the ground’, the forward ops. If you have cities being planned and run without residents’ first-person input, you end up with cities designed by planners that look great as a picture on a placemat but that don’t necessarily work well for individuals.

And that was fine before the Internet came along – maybe it was the best we could do.  Now luckily we’ve got all of these tools for collaboration that allow us to add that ‘man (or woman) on the ground’ voice into the mix.  So there’s no excuse not to do it.

How do you see the trend of crowd planning developing over time?

Well something that projects like Neighborland are going to have to grapple with in order to really be impacting is how to sustain themselves.  Who is going to pay for it day in and day out, for the next ten years?  That’s going to have a big impact over how this trend plays out, because we’ve seen so many examples now of sites like this with great intentions, which ultimately fade away because there isn’t enough money to pay for them and the creators run themselves ragged trying to keep it going.

Maybe this kind of site plus crowdfunding, is the magic combination to create a lasting service for communities.

The other challenge for these kinds of sites/ideas is how to get and sustain critical mass and visibility when you’re operating at a local level.  That’s something that every local community site has to grapple with, and it can be really daunting.  Critical mass is hard enough to get at a global level – when you split that up into a bunch of little localities, it becomes downright grueling.

So those two things, sustainability plus visibility, will I think drive what emerges as a future model for these sorts of ideas.  Whatever the model is, it will have to nail those two things in order to survive and have real impact.

A colleague of mine at faberNovel is working on a documentary on different communities’ efforts at collaboration for civic improvement, called Collaborative Cities.  It’s sort of a real-time, evolving snapshot of all of these impulses.  Great and definitely worth checking out here: http://collaborative-cities.com/

What advantages do crowd-led methods of urban planning have over more traditional practices?

I don’t see it as ‘crowd-led methods over traditional practices’, I see it as adding the crowd-led methods to the existing practices to make them more participatory while also lowering their costs.  There is definitely huge potential for this to create new channels for discussion and information exchange, to influence how decisions and allocations get made, and to do this at scale.  It’s still incredibly early in the development of these kinds of ideas, and it will evolve over time, in bits and pieces and with lots of failures along the way.

Generally speaking, does technology create more opportunities for civic engagement within cities?

Technology (web technology) definitely creates more opportunities for civic engagement.  But it’s still an open question as to what the best way to harness that is and make it lasting.  Ideally you want to have a great feedback loop going between planners, city government, and residents.  When you have that, the city becomes like a living body perfectly in tune with itself.  And web technology has the potential to provide that better than anything else.

What three things would you include in your perfect city?

Okay I’m going to give you a totally honest answer here and it has nothing to do with tech:

1) Parks, trees and green spaces within easy walking distance of wherever you live.  A river you could actually swim in would be great too, wouldn’t it?

2) Many places to run into friends and get into conversations with strangers.  Social serendipity counts for so much in cities, IMO.

3) The best opportunities for interesting work in the world.  No explanation needed.

DIY City

MyIdealCity

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

share-you-ideas

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.

Design
Trending

PSFK's Workplace Vision: Leave The Busywork To The Bots

Ai
Syndicated Today

In Popular Games, The Recurring Theme Is Exploration

The much-hyped sci-fi sandbox game proved to be as massive as expected, while Pokémon Go continued to prove inescapable

Design Today

The Best In Wearable Tech From The Rio Olympics

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best gadgets and devices used to track performance

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Advertising Today

This Cookbook Is Inspired By Brad Pitt’s On-Screen Eating Habits

Learn how to whip up meals and snacks pulled straight from the actor's fictional universe

USA Today

Tour The US National Parks From The Comfort Of Your Home

Google's new 360-degree video feature lets people take a trip to Alaska, Utah or Hawaii and see these marvels of nature up close

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Walter De Brouwer

Technology, Data, Consumer Health

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

VR Training For Active Shooter Preparedness

SurviVR is an immersive environment to teach civilians how to protect themselves in dangerous situations

Cities Today

Redesigned London Tube Map Aims To Get People Walking

The updated display illustrates approximately how many steps it takes to walk between stations for a healthier commute

Experiential Marketing Today

Nike Creates An Immersive Pop-Up Fitness Experience In London

The Unlimited You space gave athletes a chance to push their limits farther than ever before

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Automotive Today

Uber Now Lets Commuters Pay With Pretax Dollars

The prepaid cards are a partnership with WageWorks, letting uberPool users save up to 40% on their trip

Home Today

Philips Hue Adds Motion Sensor To Control Lights Automatically

The wireless device lets users interact with their environment without needing to press a switch

Home Today

Beacon Device Takes The Pain Out Of Navigating A New Airbnb

Ping provides new guests with a guided tour of the house or apartment through a simple tap of their phone

Arts & Culture Today

Shelf Makes Its Contents Appear To Hover In Midair

The design uses metal tubes to create an optical illusion when viewed from the front

Arts & Culture Today

Interactive Ceiling Responds To People Walking Underneath

The installation features built-in sensors that cause the undulating surface to morph and react to passersby

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Fashion Today

Declutter And Recycle All Of Your Unwanted Stuff

A new app will help catalogue your possessions and give them away as donations when you no longer want them

Advertising Today

Tokyo Concept Store Disguised As A Parking Garage

The retail and cafe project is designed as a hidden treasure for urban explorers

No search results found.