Activism

Read/Write Urbanism: Engaging Citizenry in the 21st Century

By Ryan Danks
Published April 27, 2010

After reading Jenny Dunlop's critique on the insipidness and inherent narcissism of certain technological trends, I wanted to write a counterpoint piece showing that social media has its beneficial side too.

In fact, thanks to my recent experience with the By-Law Crawl and now Garbage Crawl - which, by the way, takes place May 1 and 2 in various venues around the city - I've seen firsthand how the internet can be used as a powerful tool to organize and engage people in their own communities.

But what if we take this concept further?

What if there were a transparent way to report potholes, graffiti, and other complaints in real-time to a system which can then pass along the information to the appropriate authorities and be monitored by other citizens? That is to say, what if the city itself had a Twitter feed or a wiki to inform and engage those that live here?

This is not something that is years away from deployment. In fact, all I'm describing is a city-monitored version of SeeClickFix.

By encouraging this sort of user-friendly direct engagement, the city improves its own efficiency by crowd-sourcing its reporting mechanisms and more importantly, it gives everyone a simple, direct way to contribute to the city and hopefully the sense of pride that accompanies it.

I would encourage everyone here to try SeeClickFix. You don't have to register if you want to view current issues but it's free to do so if you want to post or vote on issues.

Also, inform your councillors as to its existence, because I'm willing to bet none of them have even heard of it.

Maybe if we can get enough people on board, we can get the city to officially use SeeClickFix and take one small step towards a transparent, 21st Century government.

Further Reading

Ryan Danks is a Project Engineer for a wind engineering consulting company. After living in Stoney Creek for many years he and his fiancée are now enjoying all Ward 2 has to offer.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 11:06:45

I don't think you can view social media as all good or bad. It is a tool and tools can be used for many purposes.

The example of a "good use" you give here is a very interesting one Ryan. I would like to see something like that as long as there were concrete results from it and it didn't merely act as a sort of "placebo", (i.e., makes people feel like they're doing something but things don't actually get done any faster or better).

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted April 28, 2010 at 11:35:32

I would like to see something like that as long as there were concrete results from it and it didn't merely act as a sort of "placebo", (i.e., makes people feel like they're doing something but things don't actually get done any faster or better).

I agree entirely, and this is why I like SCF. It allows simple transparent dialogue between the "Seers" and the "Fixers". As opposed to the common Facebook group slacktivism. Several cities have had excellent results using SeeClickFix and I believe it would work here too.

Some Examples

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2010-04-28 10:35:52

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