As Kansas City Design Week came to a close, the local American Institute of Architects Chapter hosted a presentation by James Moore of HDR Architects. Moore passionately believes that cities will be a key force in providing a better future for the planet, presenting his views on how technology can not only make smarter cities, but focus development on city centres. The most intriguing idea that came from his presentation dealt specifically with Kansas City’s new Google Fiber installation.
Crowd sourcing ideas from citizens may not provide exact solutions to the problems faced by a city, but it will help inform general opinions and generate a huge variety of unique ideas that designers can draw inspiration from to provide more precise solutions.
Although crowd sourcing and gamification in urban design are still at an infant stage, there are already well established open source initiatives and ideas that could help define this new way of interacting with cities. One online program that combines both features is MindMixer. This platform models itself after a town hall and rewards points to users who comment and participate in generating ideas for the community. These points can then be translated into achievements, perks, and prizes similar to a video game. MindMixer is currently being used by BNIM Architects of Kansas City to help crowd source urban ideas for Springfield, Massachusetts.
There is also a huge push in the field of Architecture to create open source networks of designers. Two programs that utilize crowd sourcing to help generate designs are Habitat for Humanity’s Open Architecture Network (which is now under the Worldchanging brand) and OpenSimSim’s Future City Lab. Both networks utilize a system of user based idea submissions, centralized databases of information, and provides a devoted community that makes suggestions on how to further improve the proposed designs.