Crowdsourcing utopia: 21st century urbanism | Awe of the universe |

New forms of cooperative urbanism are harnessing the internet to achive grand civic goals.

A generation of intrepid software developers is creating powerful tools for ordinary people to work together to achieve civic goals. and are US and UK websites where users can report problems in their area directly to the relevant local authority. Collapsed walls, broken signage and faulty streetlighting can be logged by anyone in the community. Reports are mapped online while statistics about how swiftly issues are dealt with are automatically published, encouraging authorities to act quickly. Rather than individual complainants acting in isolation, the sites allow strangers to cooperate in holding their elected officials to account while improving their public spaces.

Critics argue the sites foster apathy − encouraging the public to rely on local authorities for relatively minor maintenance jobs rather than taking responsibility as a neighbourhood, but nevertheless, the idea of using decentralised web-based input as a generator for development is gathering momentum.

Via Lauren Moss