Creating Technology for Social Change

5 resources for citizen mapping

The potential applications of the civic mapping to empower the citizens are promising, from location-aware participative democracy initiatives such as gauging public support for civic planning, to the reporting of urban problems such as blight or requesting snow cleanup.
Listed below 5 projects which, using web platforms, help citizens to foster better policy advocacy, community engagement/organizing and city planning. In all these cases we can also talk of citizen mapping, underlining the active role of each member in a community.

SeeClickFix allows anyone to report and track non-emergency issues anywhere in the world via the internet. This empowers citizens, community groups, media organizations and governments to take care of and improve their neighborhoods. In computer terminology, distributed sensing is particularly powerful at recognizing patterns, such as those that gradually take shape on a street. Besides, the government can’t be in all places at all times. Citizens who take the time to report even minor issues and see them fixed are likely to get more engaged in their local communities. It’s called a self-reinforcing loop.

Impossible Living
Abandoned buildings are everywhere. How is our society managing these buildings?
Impossible living is a project that aims to build a worldwide database of abandoned buildings, to provide tools and knowledge to help our users start rescue projects, to connect professionals to help on the design process, to find money to make these projects become real.
Impossible living wants to be an enabler, a catalyst of the energies available in every place in the world that are not able to get through and give birth to the abandonment market and, in general, to a new housing development model.

LocalData is set of tools that helps community groups and city residents gather and organize information about their neighborhood. The app caters to all ages and technical abilities. Data can be collected on paper and then scanned, or through the mobile app. Allowing anyone, anywhere to efficiently manage and collect important neighborhood-level information.

Open City
Open City is a group of volunteers that create web apps with open data to improve transparency, efficiency, and decision-making for governments and our democracy. All of the projects are open source and free to use under the MIT license.

Open Plans
OpenPlans builds open source civic infrastructure. They collaborate with the public sector to create technology for more efficient, responsive, and inclusive government. Their tools address difficult transportation and planning problems — from multi-modal trip planning to public input on infrastructure projects.

Others citizen mapping projects are listed under the section “Projects” in the CodeforAmerica website..