OpenIDEO: Online Collaboration for Urban Innovation

If you have ever found yourself pondering solutions to the world’s biggest problems, you will be relieved to learn that there is now an online platform where you can share your ideas and connect with like-minded thinkers. OpenIDEO is an online community where creative thinkers can design and share solutions in an inclusive, collaborative, optimistic and community-centered environment. The platform “depends on participation—your inspirations, his comments, her concepts, our design process,”  the organization explains. “It’s these efforts, these big and small moments of sharing and collaboration, that make this platform a dynamic resource for tackling significant global challenges.”

Many of the challenges on OpenIDEO relate to urban issues and quality of life in developing nations. For example, the current challenge question asks how cities and regions might restore vibrancy while facing economic decline. Other challenge questions focus on sustainable food production and distributionsanitation and other global challenges.

The initiative starts when a sponsor posts a challenge on OpenIDEO. Once the challenge is posted, it goes through three development phase: 1) inspiration, 2) concepting, and 3) evaluation. Community members can participate by sharing inspirational observations, like photos, sketches, business models or code. Inspiration can also be shared in the form of a comment or “applaud”—similar to Facebook’s “like” feature. At the end, sponsors choose the strongest concepts. Every concept submitted to OpenIDEO is shareable, remix-able, and reusable, similar to how Creative Commons licensing works. The organization hopes that these concepts will become reality outside of the online platform.

“We believe passionately that innovation requires collaboration and that technology can facilitate teamwork across great distances,” OpenIDEO explains. “We couldn’t find a platform that accommodated all of our core needs (which included being able to split up the innovation process into phases and to build on the ideas of others), so we created our own. Now, we’re sharing it.”

A few of the solutions presented for restoring vibrancy in cities touch on topics we have covered on this blog many times. Re-building pedestrian-friendly cities is one of those ideas. “Walking cities are vibrant cities,” Rob Katz, the creator of the idea, explains. “We crave human-to-human interaction—it’s how we’re wired—so let’s make a concerted effort to keep us on our feet by maintaining and re-building pedestrian friendly cities.”

Another fun idea, the Busycle, comes from Avi Solomon. The Busycle is a 15-person pedal-powered bicycle-bus. “It can be used to move around town on dedicated routes while helping residents get in shape and engage with each other,” Solomon explains. Read more about it here.

Other ideas include urban gardens, using data visualization to heighten awareness, connecting abandoned spaces, and recycling auto parts.

Do you have any ideas on how to restore vibrancy in cities? Join the conversation here and share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

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