Local Brainstorm began as a project to imagine a city creating policies and making decisions based on input coming directly from their communities. We dreamed out a city that learned how to listen. It’s ambitious and simple. We believe in that idea. The white house initiated the Smart Cities Initiative as an attempt to use technology to amplify impact and data to drive decisions. Local Brainstorm tries to accomplish both of these things through community engagement. We use technology to amplify reach to representative samples of a city’s population, and turn community input in functional insights that policy analysts can use in zoning changes, local laws, public initiatives, and more.
I believe in the city. It’s an amazing creation of humanity that forces people to live together. Cities and governance are two of the greatest technologies to make life feasible, though they often aren’t seen that way. Cities are better for addressing climate change as it builds on less space and shares resources for communities. It also causes it’s own ecological problems, though, and governance is similar. Policies set acceptable interactions among citizens, residents, and tourists. They also are imperfect and have unintended consequences that often aren’t identified until after they are implemented. We believe that a platform that tackles communication and feedback loops between citizens, sensors, and government workers will lead to more rapid improvement of social issues.
We began this project in 2016 as an open-source application that integrates attempts to listen to people living in a city that see problems and integrate sensor data to better inform problems that can’t be seen. It’s a work in progress and we don’t know how long it will take yet. What we do know is that a city is only as smart as the people that make it up. That’s our vision of a city in the future. Want to join in?