What is Open Urban? Open Urban is an open crowd sourced map and forum on urban development. It is a space for civic collaboration, a venue for debate, and an outlet and archive of information. It uses crowd sourcing technology as a means to inform and empower. We want people to understand how their cities are changing and to support their active participation in that change.
The internet, cities, and maps are increasingly important parts of peoples lives. According to the the U.N. and World Bank over 50% of all people now live in cities and over 30% use the internet - and both numbers are increasing quickly. At the same time web maps are quickly becoming a popular way to mediate between cyber space and real environments and people are becoming increasingly literate with them.
Why not just leave it up to the professionals? Urban planners and designers will always play an important role in cities. However, not all information or decision making on urban development resides in planning offices. Usually this information is spread across a number of governmental organizations, firms, private institutions, and media outlets, which may not be willing or able to cooperate or communicate with each other. We want to change that, especially in cities where rapid, informal or uncoordinated development is occurring. We also think it's important for people to participate in the creation of space around them. When you're dealing with many needs and opinions, which occurs in a city, informed consensus building is the best way to proceed. This is what Open Urban will cultivate.
What have we done so far? Much of the site architecture is done and front end development is under way. This has been done through part-time volunteer effort by three of the team members - Ali, Jesse, Irene, as well as a few other contributors who have helped with the video and graphic design. In addition, due to a Fulbright Grant, Reed Duecy-Gibbs has and will continue to work on the project full time throughout the summer. Over the next three months our group will continue front end design and development of OpenUrban. However, there are some things that simply require money.
What your donations will pay for. We need to hire web developers to set up the back-end of the site (the databases) and also develop some of the more technical coding such as the map editor (which allows anyone to contribute to the map). We are going to finish a pilot prototype and conduct private beta testing over the summer of 2012 and will launch a public beta test in the Fall of 2012. We also need to pay for hosting services, which can get quite expensive quickly if the site becomes popular.
Open Urban is a non-profit. And at this point we rely exclusively on grants and donations from people like you. If our Kickstarter campaign goes unfunded development of the website (and the related open source code) will be hobbled and OpenUrban will likely become a half completed side project, which will benefit no one.
So donate and help OpenUrban map the future of cities!
- (30 days)