martes, 18 de septiembre de 2012

Crowdsourcing underused urban assets: from mapping to action

Making the most of every resource in the city. That should be one of the main strategies in city management. Taking full advantage of any physical or intangible public asset. No idle resources without social value. Any building, public facility or vacant lot without a specific utility, underutilized or abandoned is expecting to be used and more urgently now that local authorities do not have major chances to build from scratch or start new urbanization projects. Crowdsourcing mapping tools (see this video prepared by Re:imagine Group, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and Newton Circus for the UP Singapore exhibition ) is being used as a tool to identify and collectively raise awareness on the hidden opportunities any city has to activate wasted spaces. Collective mapping is becoming a tool or a pretext to socialize urban interventions and community action, as people share places to be bailed out and ideas on how to intervene on them. Many projects around the world working on tactical and DIY urbanism are using crowdsourced mapping to gain attention and spread the word locally, creating contexts of individual and collective actions on specific areas of their cities or regions. These are three examples:

This project is based on New York (In started in Brooklyn as the first: 596 acres of public land is empty or unused in Brooklyn) with the aim of providing new community spaces in neighborhoods where green and recreational areas are scarce and proposed five lines of work:

  • Making information available city-through an online interactive map
  • Placing signs on vacant public land that explain each lot's status and steps the community can that in order to be able to use this land
  • Education about visioning sessions for public land holdings by invitation from community groups
  • Engaging the community leader when to an Interested Potential Reaches out
  • Direct advocacy with New York City agencies
To cover the first of them 596 acres is using a complete map of spaces classified according to the stage of appropriation in which they are (no activity yet, with groups working on them, where there are already community access or private spaces with community use). The resources section on its website is also a good collection of tools to work from this perspective.

In this video you can check the process of developing this map and it is a perfect example of how to integrate and hybridize physical fieldwork with digital and programming work:

596 Acres Promo from Conspire Films on Vimeo.

[IM] POSSIBLE LIVING uses mapping as its core strategy to raise awareness on underutilized resources in cities. In this case, it targets buildings and not necessarily in cities, but any building in cities, suburbs, forests or fields that deserve a new rebirth. The approach aims to build a collaborative map by contributing users anywhere in the world who want to map abandoned buildings and build a worldwide database of abandoned buildings. Again, the idea is that maps help to visualize the problem of abandonment and serve to catalyze collaborative processes between people and groups who want to start creative rescue projects.

Great projects are arising in UK working on tactical urbanism and trying to face economic crisis with innovative ways to activate unused spaces and •Space is one of the most interesting (check The temporary city to have a look). Although collaborative mapping in this case is not their main instrument, they are also using a map to identify different properties they are working on. Turning empty spaces into an opportunity is its claim and use a brokerage strategy to link social needs and private owners to offer community organizations free access to underutilized resources for temporary or pop-up project while the land or premises not return to the market.

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