Jean-Paul Bounine @ stock.adobe.com
In order to exert their political power and understand their necessities, citizens can use knowledge management platforms as an alternative to analyzing the complexity of an increasingly interconnected world. These specialized open platforms are available for every citizen to check their city or country data and discuss important issues, thus working as a collaborative authoring space that gathers the knowledge acquired through a combination of crowd-sourcing and Machine Learning for several outcomes: from anticipatory modeling to urban planning and legislation.
The framework necessary for a crowd platform to function is based on the implementation of value creation, supplanting the dominance that products (and services) have long played. This digital environment is characterized as the near-zero marginal cost of access, reproduction, and distribution due to its character of a huge, diverse, largely uncontrollable, and powerful force of global networks and robust platforms.
Such discussions can be formulated based on the complexity and extent of the data made available on these platforms that ultimately function as aggregators of information. The data added must be constantly updated either by automated crawlers that look for new information on websites and newspapers or by the users themselves. Examples range from public platforms with crowdsourced mapping of their city, allowing citizens to benefit from constantly updated information on urban spaces, such as public gardens for food security (i.e. Falling Fruits'), as well as information that revolves around safety concerns, like spotting and informing about neighborhoods considered safer for women and members of the trans community, as well as providing information of urban areas with more accessibility tools for the elderly or people with disabilities.
These crowd platforms may also be utilized and maintained by governments or private institutions, but one essential feature is keeping the citizen-sourced anticipated data structured and open, incentivizing startups to develop APIs and create new applications that can improve the lives of citizens, such as is the case of an Open Payment API. While collaborating with the government, private transportation companies could thus reunite all data in the same platform, such as Pigeon's, which concentrates information to dwellers.
Current examples include projects applied in Switzerland, Japan, and Iceland, as well as a more recent application of these platforms as a means to support social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. By developing the norms and networks that facilitate co-operation between individuals, governments, and organizations, the traditional concept of development could be expanded to include social and environmental sustainability issues.
Automation Is Just A Detail: Making Sense Of Data
Although these platforms could greatly improve urban planning through the analysis of sensor-based data collected via a mobile crowdsensing platform, such a solution still depends on human engagement and proactivity from different sectors. In order to become ubiquitous and have participation from a large part of the population, these platforms need to focus on the quantity of data available as well as the simplicity of the content. For populations that struggle to comprehend complex data sets, it would be prudent to have an extensive application of UX principles to generate visualizations that would allow citizens to better understand initiatives and analyze data to infer insights with no need for advanced knowledge in digital literacy.
With the rise of mobile communications adoption and the expansion of internet availability, it is possible that future resource management will save a huge part of the research budget by using sensor-based data collected through crowdsensing. Cities will then be able to better focus on the citizens instead of caring about regulatory hurdles or solely marketing purposes. It will be imperative for governors to collate this data and open centers with the computing power to process it.