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What Boston's Snow Crisis Can Teach Us About Solving Problems in New Ways

Stashed in: Problem?, Boston, Crowdsourcing, Cities!

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A granular approach to finding solutions seems most appropriate in this situation.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, for example, announced plans to pay citizens a reward if they save electricity to prevent brown-outs. Rio de Janeiro is piloting a mobile technology to empower virtually every citizen to become a triage expert and help allocate emergency services more effectively. And the City of Lagos seeks to address its monumental energy problems by sourcing off-grid, renewable electricity through modular solar panels distributed in hard-to-reach areas.

All of these approaches point toward a world where the citizen regains a role in delivering urban services. Apps allow us to reach thousands, train them and organize efforts at almost no cost, as Boston’s Bump Map App did for surveying street surfaces.

Citizens and local businesses are on the ground, know their city and could not be more motivated to solve problems. Some cities, such as Barcelona and Philadelphia, have recognized the potential for lower costs and better results and are changing their spending processes to open up a clear path for these community problem-solvers to put their ideas into action. Ultimately, this kind of open public spending process is what’s needed to enable real innovation.

City-scale crowd sourced solutions. Cool.


Yes, it gives citizens an opportunity to positively contribute.

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