PSFK: “As cities around the world grow in size, one of the major challenges will be how to make city services and infrastructure more adaptive and responsive in order to keep existing systems running efficiently, while expanding to accommodate greater need. In our Future Of Cities report, PSFK Labs investigated the key trends and pressing issues that will play a role in shaping the evolution of urban environments over the next decade.
A major theme identified in the report is Sensible Cities, which is bringing intelligence to the city and its citizens through the free flow of information and data, helping improve both immediate and long term decision making. This theme consists of six key trends: Citizen Sensor Networks, Hyperlocal Reporting, Just-In-Time Alerts, Proximity Services, Data Transparency, and Intelligent Transport.
The Citizen Sensor Networks trend described in the Future Of Cities report highlights how sensor-laden personal electronics are enabling everyday people to passive collect environmental data and other information about their communities. When fed back into centralized, public databases for analysis, this accessible pool of knowledge enables any interested party to make more informed choices about their surroundings. These feedback systems require little infrastructure, and transform people into sensor nodes with little effort on their part. An example of this type of network in action is Street Bump, which is a crowdsourcing project that helps residents improve their neighborhood streets by collecting data around real-time road conditions while they drive. Using the mobile application’s motion- detecting accelerometer, Street Bump is able to sense when a bump is hit, while the phone’s GPS records and transmits the location.
The next trend of Hyperlocal Reporting describes how crowdsourced information platforms are changing the top-down nature of how news is gathered and disseminated by placing reporting tools in the hands of citizens, allowing any individual to instantly broadcast about what is important to them. Often using mobile phone technology, these information monitoring systems not only provide real-time, location specific data, but also boost civic engagement by establishing direct channels of communication between an individual and their community. A good example of this is Retio, which is a mobile application that allows Mexican citizens to report on organized crime and corruption using social media. Each issue is plotted on a map, allowing users and authorities to get an overall idea of what has been reported or narrow results down to specific incidents.
Data Transparency is a trend that examines how city administrators, institutions, and companies are publicly sharing data generated within their systems to add new levels of openness and accountability. Availability of this information not only strengthens civic engagement, but also establishes a collaborative agenda at all levels of government that empowers citizens through greater access and agency. For example, OpenSpending is a mobile and web-based application that allows citizens in participating cities to examine where their taxes are being spent through interactive visualizations. Citizens can review their personal share of public works, examine local impacts of public spending, rate and vote on proposed plans for spending and monitor the progress of projects that are or are not underway…”