I am an interaction design student getting ready to start a thesis project. I would like to explore the area of urban computing (location based devices, participatory sensing, public displays, etc.) and I would love to find an issue or an opportunity specific to Copenhagen as context for this project. Anything from cycling to immigration to the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
P.S. I am a foreign student studying in Denmark
Just yesterday we launched an innovation contest in Washington DC to build a citizen driven 311 service platform.
Apps for Democracy "Community Edition" (http://www.appsfordemocracy.org) is taking place between now and the end of June with $35,000 in prizes...for the best solution to 311 service request submissions.
The city is releasing a API for developers to use and our insights phase is open http://insights.appsfordemocracy.org.
What do you think?
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures has a good piece on his blog today about creating an open 311 by using what he calls "the public channel". Fred's idea for an open 311 is pretty much inline with the central premise of DIYcity (and Fred gives a nice shout-out to us in the post), and I think it mirrors the way we on this site would do it, if it was up to us.
I've been meaning to write up a 1-pager on the idea of an open 311, which a friend to DIYcity has offered to give to Bloomberg's staff (he thinks Bloomberg would be very friendly to the idea). I just haven't had time, if you can believe it. And I feel like it's an opportunity that is slipping away. So, in best crowdsourcing fashion, I'm turning it over to the crowd here on DIYcity. Can people collectively come up with ideas on an open 311 for NYC? What would it look like? What would be the advantages of it? How would it make the city better? How would it make life easier/cheaper/better for the government?
Let's have an open discussion on this today, then boil it down and present that as a 1-pager. Names will be named, so if you contribute your ideas, they'll go into any final document that gets presented.
ChangeCamp Ottawa will be May 16, 2009 at City Hall
Only a few tickets remain to this unconference where we will discuss how technology can enable citizen participation in government.
There is still time to register.
There are also still organizing tasks left to do, and the next planning meeting will be May 6.
You can track the progress of the event using the Twitter hashtag #cco09
So, we went through a big learning curve last week with SickCity, in the face of the swine flu hysteria that swept around the world. The tool went from being marginally useful, though still a bit noisy, to totally drowned in noise and hence useless, in the space of a day. The team spent the better part of the week trying to come up with ways to combat this, but in the face of the growing storm of tweets about flu and everything sickness-related, we eventually realized our attempts at beating swine flu were useless for now.
Overall, the experience gave us a lot to reflect on and will ultimately make SickCity a much more robust and useful tool. It was sort of a trial by fire, which SickCity failed, but which also positioned us to pass our next trial.
Things we played with during the week were:
- creating a blacklist of words that would cause SickCity to skip particular tweets, and letting anyone visiting the site add to that list. see here: http://sickcity.org/badwords got lots of submissions, but didn't stem the tide.
- letting anyone remove a tweet from the system that wasn't really related to being sick. see: http://sickcity.org/USA/Seattle/phrase/flu This also worked a bit, but not thoroughly enough in the face of the huge onslaught of noisy tweets.
At one point SickCity was processing over 1500 tweets a minute related to flu (almost none of them by people who actually had flu).
So we stopped for the week, threw in the towel, and came up with a new search strategy which we're implementing now. I think this will be much more reliable.
Other improvements that were made to SickCity along the way:
- the top ten sickest cities list is now based on a "sickness quotient" derived by dividing the number of "sick" tweets by the total number of daily tweets for that city. (Formerly it was purely based on total number of sick tweets, which meant that the bigger cities tended to show up as the "sickest cities").
- this top ten sickest list is based on today's data and is updated regularly throughout the day. (this is actually interrupted right now, but will be back soon).
- now you can read the full text of each tweet on the SickCity page w/o clicking through to Twitter. This allows visitors to easily see which tweets are signal and which are noise, and make their own conclusions about the data.
- cities now have overall "sickness" graphs for the past 30 days, showing you, in sum, how much "sick tweet" activity there has been in that city over the past month.
Once we get our better search strategy in place, we should have a pretty workable, maybe even reliable, system.
Have several other improvements to make once the new search strategy is in place. Will post on those later.
BTW, still trying to work it out such that developers communicate directly through this group when developing. For now though it seems preferable for them to talk directly via email or in Campfire for group chat. If you want to join in on the development process, drop a note.
My past few weeks have been busy with DIYcity-related things that haven't lent themselves to posting on the site much. Briefly, I've been:
- working on a plan for DIYcity to take it to a new, bigger, more exciting and more effective level (a DIYcity 2.0!).
- working a whole lot on SickCity with the SickCity team, trying to stay ahead of last week's swine flu scare and the resulting tsunami of sickness-related twitter messages. (and writing about the team's efforts on O'Reilly Radar).
- attending, and presenting at, a conference in Princeton on City Planning, Civic Engagement and the Internet.
So my contribution to the site has been pretty minimal lately.
Luckily the site has enough people and enough momentum these days that it doesn't really need me to move it forward. Since I've been off doing other things, we've picked up a couple hundred new members, plus new local groups in such interesting places as Wellington, New Zealand and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (no post in that one yet!). We also have a lot of interesting posts in local groups and in Discussions, like this one by Clint about a retweeting service he's built.
Anyway, I'm mostly done with all of that stuff now, and back on the site, so expect to hear a lot more from me in the various groups in the coming days. I've learned a lot in the process of doing all of those things mentioned above, reflected on a lot, and will be working all of it back into the site over the next week or two.
So, onward we go!
After I saw the huge success of @TamaleTracker I thought, we can't be the only people who could benefit from a real time messaging service like this. Why not utilize what Twitter has provided for me, a common data source that people are becoming more and more familiar with, combined with this technology and make it available for anyone who wants to create their own tamale tracker or other service to aggregate their followers content. So I created the Spotd service to do just that.
Spotd and its a free service that listens for @replies sent to a Twitter account and then relays those messages through itself. It's the same functionality as the Tamale Tracker but this can be used for anyone and anyone can set one up. Simply register a Twitter account to the Spotd service and any reply sent to the account will be retweeted.
In addition to being a bot for Twitter accounts, Spotd also is my try at creating a real time communication device for cities and towns across the world. I spend a lot of time walking around Chicago and see interesting things happen all the time - people getting arrested, car accidents, buildings on fire, bank robbery, protests and other news-worthy things. I tweet about them, but I wanted to create something to give people a common source of communication throughout their city to stay on top of things that are happening right now without having to wait for major media outlets to cover them. That’s where the Spotd news service comes in, it is an aggregated, user-submitted news feed for interesting things going on - so far, I created accounts for @SpotdChicago, @SpotdLA, @SpotdSF and @SpotdNYC; with more to come and any user can create their own Spotd news service for their own city.
I hope you can see the value in this as much as I do, if you'd like more information, have any suggestions or would like to help me work on this, please feel free to contact me.
Ok, so on 9th March, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce outlined New Zealand's infrastructure's current and future needs over the coming 20 years. Don't know about you, but I'm not prepared to wait for the creation of government-driven projects that try to solve questions that open technology can already answer.
How about approaching something simple for a starting point. Is there any way we can make sense of the jumbled mess of government websites - help communicate Wellington's services and culture in a joined-up way, so that people can actually get value from them?
Nearly all Manitobans are familiar with the near yearly effects of flooding upon river based communities. Floods seem to affect us year after year with the only grassroots movement to rectify the situation being assistance in sandbagging friends houses and some related actions but all long term/large scale planning is left in the hands of the government. Perhaps there is something to be said for the abilities of a DIY attitude tackling this recurring problem that faces Winnipeg and the surrounding environs. It may be something beyond our abilities to take on nature but logistics and additional creativity may be capable of wondrous things.
What does everyone else think on the matter? This is, obviously, not very thought through on my end and simply a mental exercise at the moment.