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Sue Braiden

Chief Adventure Diva, Adventures With the Estrogen Army

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What are the best tools for fostering citizen-led urban innovation, making it easy to identify needs, solve problems and share knowledge?

I live in a dying city. I want to do something about that.

More importantly, I'm interested in helping create a citizen-directed effort to:
• identify needs,
• solve problems, and
• share knowledge.

I'd like to help create an innovation launchpad that allows everyday people to work together through these 3 activities in a way that has a meaningful impact on social and economic problems in our city.

I recognize the power of simple technologies to fuel broad collaboration that makes it easier to look at other communities and ask:

• what works?
• how can we make that work here?

When I moved here I was lucky enough to be part of our current mayor's campaign team. Part of my job was to look for ways of integrating tools and services, like Baltimore's 311/CityStat, which have radically changed the way government services are tracked, deployed, and made more efficient, transparent and accountable. They make it easier for citizens to access services and add value, but are not really designed to put them in the driver's seat as the real innovators in creating healthier, more resilient communities.

I am interested in finding similarly simple and innovative tools that make citizen-directed community-building possible.

In particular, I am interested in these types of tools:
• discovery tools (things that make it easy to find what's working in other communities),
• collaboration tools (things that make it easy to work together to solve problems and share resources), and,
• broadcasting tools (things that make it easy to share what works more broadly).

Hence, the question:

What are the best tools for fostering citizen-led urban innovation, making it easy to identify needs, solve problems and share knowledge?

Thanks so very much for any insights and resources you are willing to share!

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    Jun 22 2012: edward, I certainly agree! I am instinctively a net-centric researcher and knowledge worker, so it's where I want to start. I am also hobbled by a tendancy to reinvent the wheel ... lol. Over the weekend I was scribbling out the design for a web site community hub to get things started, and realized I was probably going to waste a lot of time and effort creating an infrastructure that likely already exists, when more than anything, I want to invest that energy more directly into the activities of reasearching, talking, harvesting, synthesizing and sharing.

    When I first started thinking about what an effort to foster community engagement for this kind of problem solving and resource/knowledge sharing might look like, I thought about the tools I already use, such as forums to invite discourse, web databases to capture the knowledge and resources we glean along the way, and software such as the enterprise version of the "Personal Brain" application to reveal connections between allies, resources and knowledge we might not otherwise see. While I think each of these may be a component, I realize that there may be stronger and more integrated sets of tools already in place with a focus on citizen-directed urban innovation.

    It seemed like a a good idea to ask the question first before diving in, and I am very glad I did! You folks have already provided me with such a rich set of resources to explore, and I am deeply grateful : )

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