Experiment looks to leverage social media for Open Cities playbook

As part of an information-gathering effort, Code for America yesterday began asking the Twitter-verse for case studies, success stories and ideas for how cities are becoming more open. By using Expert Labs’ ThinkUp social media analytics tool, the non-profit hopes to see if wisdom from the tweeting millions can help generate a playbook for Open Cities.

In a pair of blogs yesterday, Abhi Nemani and Anil Dash announced the Code for America experiment to aggregate thoughts, cases studies and problems with how cities engage citizens and disseminate information through technology. A few of the foundational questions sent via Twitter were:

  • What tech solutions give citizens a voice in their city and help them to engage in its management? #OpenCities2010 http://bit.ly/octu10
  • What tech solutions help cities to be transparent & accountable about decisions? #OpenCities2010 http://bit.ly/octu10 #localgovchat

So far, only a handful of replies have been gathered through the ThinkUp tool. ThinkUp captures posts, replies, retweets, friends, followers, and links on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. It was founded by Gina Trapani and sponsored by Expert Labs.

“This is just the first of a number of collaborations we’re engaging in at Expert Labs, to learn about the power of crowdsourcing from as many different communities as we can, and to extend the reach of the ThinkUp platform to every situation where it can be useful,” wrote Mr. Dash.

The crowdsourcing aggregation experiment will be active through the month of October, leading up to Next American City’s November event, Open Cities: New Media’s Role in Shaping Urban Policy. According to the event page, the conference will explore “new media’s strategies for dealing with a variety of challenges — such as how to build an engaged urban citizenry, best utilize municipal data and develop cost-saving technologies or networks to improve cities.”

“So tell us, how technology is making a difference in your city, or any city,” Code for America’s Abhi Nemani asks in his post. “Point us to new ideas, where they’re happening, and the people and organizations behind them.”