Community engagement is fundamental to building urban resilience. New technologies have the capacity to revolutionize the ways in which city governments can garner input and support from local communities, particularly those sectors of society historically left out of such dialogues. These technologies allow cities to build social cohesion and a strong sense of community in the face of an uncertain future. In many cities the demand for these engagement tools is surging: when many of our European cities, for example, applied to the 100RC challenge in 2013 and 2014, migration was not on their list of priority shocks and stresses. In the last two years the issue has moved to the forefront, driving considerable interest in the development of innovative engagement tools. These tools are being designed to reach vulnerable communities (both migrant and local) and are crucial for cities to mitigate the risks and harness the great potential of these populations.

The recent waves of global migration – the largest since WWII – make this demand even more urgent. For example, when many of our European cities applied to the 100RC challenge in 2013 and 2014, migration was not on their list of priority shocks and stresses; in the last two years the issue has moved to the forefront of their concerns.

All of our cities around the world are exploring ways to integrate their various communities into the planning process, including the newly arrived, whether or not they remain permanently.

 


The twenty resilience strategies published to date demonstrate growing demand for new technologies for community engagement in the urban setting:

  • Digital Infrastructure for Community Engagement: 14 cities, 30 initiatives.

We have seen a variety of demands and initiatives from our cities:

  • Communication platforms on risk and resilience for citizens.
    Glasgow; Mexico City; New Orleans; Rotterdam; Vejle; Boulder

  • Technologies with which to collaborate with resident on social issues, including crime and mental health.
    Byblos; Greater Christchurch; New York; Rotterdam; Vejle

  • High-speed internet service for low income communities..
    New Orleans; New York

  • Enhanced performance and utilization of internet-based participatory reporting.
    Norfolk; Semarang

 


Resilience R&D: Early Innovative Community Engagement Technology


Enfranchisement for New Residents | MasterCard

Simplifying a city’s ability to administer its social programs and making it easier for recipients to access benefits is key to allowing those segments of the population to be fully engaged participants in their communities. Partnerships with financial institutions such as MasterCard on digital payments programs for migrants have been critical to achieving the flexibility needed to respond to the refugee crises arising in several of our cities, including Athens and Amman. Recipients of funds have the autonomy to prioritize spending to meet their needs, while local businesses benefit from the expansion of their client base. Despite being referred to as cash-transfer programming, this kind of assistance increasingly works via electronic fund transfers rather than cash.

Global Addressing Systems | What3Words

What3Words translates geographic coordinates into three dictionary words, providing addresses and grids for many places that need them, especially in the developing world. Filling the gap that some nations’ postal systems cannot, What3Words can provide a city or region (or nation) with an important infrastructural need it cannot develop on its own.

Participatory Planning Platforms

What3Words translates geographic coordinates into three dictionary words, providing addresses and grids for many places that need them, especially in the developing world. Filling the gap that some nations’ postal systems cannot, What3Words can provide a city or region (or nation) with an important infrastructural need it cannot develop on its own.

Several new apps and online platforms are opening new avenues for communication and enabling cities to engage residents for their input on discrete issues, or for resident-dependent information gathering.

  • Neighborland: a communications software that enables civic organizations, including city agencies, universities, and non-profits, to collaborate with constituents and stakeholders. This dialogue allows for communities to have significant input on the development of their own neighborhoods. Through its use, city governments have seen between a ten- and hundred-fold increase in engagement on their projects compared with traditional outreach models such as surveys and community meetings.
     
  • Streetwyze: a mobile mapping and SMS app that integrates official data and local knowledge that can be crowdsourced and shared in real time. Streetwyze provides a valuable bridge between “top down” information and “bottom up” data that can more aptly track events as they unfold. Overcoming the common disconnect between these two types of information is essential for a city to be able to create resilient solutions that address the full context of a community and its needs.
Visualization of the City through Social Media | Melbourne & Twitter

A grant from Twitter is allowing the city of Melbourne, Australia access to both current and historic data, thereby enabling unprecedented insights into the city, including time-lapsed geographic mapping of the movement patterns of city residents; analyses of citizens’ sentiments towards existing or proposed policies and programs; and heat-mapping of food-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases.

 

Explore the Report


WATER MANAGEMENT

DATA MANAGEMENT

INNOVATIVE FINANCING

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD


Explore another recent 100RC report: Resilience in Action which details ways in which cities are institutionalizing resilience.