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References and Links

Crowdsourcing and Civic Technology for Sustainable Transport

General References

  • Understanding New Power – Article by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in Harvard Business Review: ” … an interesting and complex transformation is just beginning, one driven by a growing tension between two distinct forces: old power and new power. Old power works like a currency. … It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. … New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven.” from the Understanding New Power – review by GovLab.

  • The Online Public Engagement Emporium – a website that describes online techniques for improving public engagement.

  • Digital Tools for Participatory Democracy – from the NESTA Tech4Labs blog … this article starts by defining participatory democracy, then describes digital tools to help support participatory democracy (some of which are included on the Collaboration and Discussion crowdsourcing page), and then how to get started. Great introduction to the subject by Arnaud Sahuguet, Chief Technology Officer at GovLab (March 5, 2015).

Civic Tech Code Development

Organisations working to develop civic tech applications:

  • Code for Europe – strives to solve local civic challenges, by enabling agile temporary teams of developers to create solutions that are easily reusable in other European cities.
  • CitySDK – is a “service development kit” for cities and developers that aims at harmonising application programming interfaces (APIs) across cities. CitySDK APIs enable new services and applications to be rapidly developed, scaled and reused through providing a range of tools and information for both cities and developers. The EU funded project ended in 2014, it developed processes in the areas of participation, mobility and tourism. Waag Society Blog on the SDK cookbook.


Good references on the use of Crowdfunding for civic improvements include:

Smart Cities

Smart city control room from Places magazine.

Smart city projects are often technology focused.

Public participation is an important, though often overlooked, part of a “Smart City”. There’s lots written about Smart City projects and philosophy. These references question the Smart City idea and generally recommend more involvement of residents in the process.

  • Rethinking Smart Cities From The Ground Up – Tom Saunders and Peter Baeck, Nesta. This report tells the stories of cities around the world – from Beijing to Amsterdam, and from London to Jakarta – that are addressing urban challenges by using digital technologies to engage and enable citizens. The key findings were: Many ‘top down’ smart city ideas have failed to deliver on their promise, combining high costs and low returns; ‘Collaborative technologies’ offer cities another way to make smarter use of resources, smarter ways of collecting data and smarter ways to make decisions; and, Collaborative technologies can also help citizens themselves shape the future of their cities. The report makes five recommendations for city government who want to make their cities smarter.
  • Citizen-Driven Innovation: A Guidebook for City Mayors and Public Administrators – Eskelinen, Jarmo; Garcia Robles, Ana; Lindy, Ilari; Marsh, Jesse; Muente-Kunigami, Arturo. 2015. Citizen-Driven Innovation : A Guidebook for City Mayors and Public Administrators. World Bank, Washington, DC, and European Network of Living Labs. © World Bank and ENoLL. This guidebook aims to bring citizen-driven innovation to policy makers and change agents around the globe, by spreading good practice on open and participatory approaches as applied to digital service development in different nations, climates, cultures, and urban settings. The report explores the concept of smart cities through a lens that promotes citizens as the driving force of urban innovation.
  • The truth about smart cities: ‘In the end, they will destroy democracy’ – By Stefan Poole, The Guardian, December 2014. The smart city is, to many urban thinkers, just a buzzphrase that has outlived its usefulness: ‘the wrong idea pitched in the wrong way to the wrong people’. So why did that happen – and what’s coming in its place? Poole’s article provides a short background on smart cities and future applications, he focuses on how technology could be used to reduce and eliminate democracy.
  • The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology – By Adam Greenfield, The Guardian, December 2014. Ignore the futuristic visions of governments and developers, it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabric. Greenfield describes two excellent examples of how people using relatively simple technologies are really doing things that make cities better. Both are required reading for anyone who wants to better understand smart cities.
  • The too smart city – By Courtney Humphries, Boston Globe, May 19, 2013. We’re already building the metropolis of the future—green, wired, even helpful. Now critics are starting to ask whether we’ll really want to live there. Great article summarising the pros and cons of the smart city.

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