Change by Us: Crowdsourced virtual brainstorming for cities
People who live in cities often have great ideas about how they can be improved. But, short of letter-writing campaigns to overworked politicians or impassioned letters to local newspaper editors, it can be challenging for the average citizen to get his/her suggestions heard and better still, implemented.
Enter Change by Us, a platform built by design firm Local Projects and urban advocacy non-profit CEOs for Cities. Change by Us enables city dwellers to connect and collaborate with each other and their local governments, allowing them to all work together toward finding solutions. Change by Us launched in July in New York, where the focus has been on finding ways to make the city more environmentally-friendly. The tool helps folks with similar ideas find each other, then provides them with a framework for organizing and running civic-based projects. You can search for projects or submit an idea and initiate one yourself.
Because of the success and more importantly, the potential of the New York-based program, the non-profit, government-focused techies at Code for America have partnered with Change by Us to roll the code out nationally for other cities to use. The code will be open source, meaning any developer can tweak, improve upon or add to the code to best serve their specific city.
The next two cities currently in beta are Philadelphia and Seattle (my current hometown). With its infamous traffic and related seismic, public transportation and bicycle hot button issues and no shortage of average folks wanting to help fix them, Seattle certainly seems like it will benefit from such a platform. It will be interesting to see if (and how) the wisdom of the crowd translates into direct, problem-solving action.
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