When geeks hit the streets

Huge Kudos for OpenPlans from New York City for proving to us that not only have geeks left the streets but now they are also helping everybody plan for a better city. An exciting mix of journalism, open source code, transit planning and urban planning, OpenPlans has set up programs such as Streetfilms to promote their work and share insights on programs in cities all over the world – for now the case studies section looks at Paris, Bogota and American cities.

Another very interesting program OpenPlans helped to set up is Community Almanac for the Orton Foundation. This website helps small town communities promote the places they live in, with a by-and-for sharing process that puts placemaking in the hands of the people that live there. All this makes me want to get a work permit and go ask OpenPlans for a job, but that’s another story.

The bottom line is that citizen engagement and community planning can be both exciting and tedious, and the size of the project is never proportional to people’s expectations.   Any DIY or computer based smart tools to help with these processes are crucial considering how hard it can be to generate citizen involvement.   Consequently, I invite you to donate to OpenPlans – see this investment as good karma money, as the work they are involved  in is contributing directly to public services without further burdening city budgets.


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