City Improvements

If you were interested in last year’s Street Bump, you might be interested in this year’s improvements to it.

Street Bump, in case you didn’t remember, is an application that tracks and reports potholes in a citizen’s neighborhood. Residents of those neighborhoods record the “bumps” which are identified by their device using an accelerometer and those bumps are then located on GPS, then analyzed and finally reported to the city via Open311, so they get fixed. Problem was, that as the app began testing the data, they realized that the app couldn’t distinguish a pothole from a manhole. In order to make the app viable, the City of Boston team tapped InnoCentive asking the crowd to find an algorithm to differentiate the two in exchange for a $25,000 prize. The submissions are now under evaluation and it will be interesting to see what sort of results the City of Boston can expect.

Getting citizens engaged in city improvements isn’t a new idea, however. The Give a Minute! Program reaches out to residents to send along their ideas about improving community. Residents can visit the GiveaMinute site or submit using Facebook and Twitter. However, this service is still only available to Chicago, Memphis, San Jose, and New York. Seattle, of course, uses the Seattle City Council’s IdeaScale page.

However, I think the idea with the most originality is the city of Copenhagen, which has opened a debate diner where you don’t pay for your hot dogs with cash, but instead with good ideas for improving the community. Lene Bidstrup, communications and project associate says, “The idea with the debate diner was to try a different way of creating dialog with the citizens of Copenhagen. The city is for everyone, and therefore we think that everyone, who has an opinion should have the opportunity to participate.” Personally, for me, nothing gets the creative juice flowing like hot dogs.

How would you get citizens involved? What do you think about the idea platforms that are being used to amass ideas at the moment?

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