A couple of days ago I visited a very cool event in Karlsruhe called h4ck your city, jointly organized by the wid, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Open Knowledge Foundation. The goal of the event was to bring together people who care for their city, who want to change something and to help them find a collaborative platform for creating and prototyping these Ideas.
The event started out with a brief introduction and a welcoming word from Dr. Frank Entrup the mayor of Karlsruhe. Talking right from his heart, the first thought that came to his mind was: Oh my! We're being hacked! After noticing the scope and aim of the event, he was relieved and realized that this event was actually a new way of citizen empowerment.
The old ways of civic participation are not suitable for current developments in technology and community building.
A group of about 30-40 hackers voluntarily gathered to work on solving problems of the city. The commitment showed that there is the necessity and also the will of citizens to take part in projects of public interest. Grouping together with like-minded people and creating progress through technology with specific goals and projects will foster these new ways of citizen participation.
The success of h4ck your city has been proven, not only through the many visitors in Berlin, Dortmund, Leipzig and Karlsruhe, but also through the outcomes from the two-day workshops. After a short project pitching phase, the city-hackers synced up in project groups and started working on their ideas.
see what's been going on at hack your city Karlsruhe
The two days of hacking Karlsruhe resulted in great technological city hacks like sensor balloons and data visualization of bike-sharing rental data. But there were also projects not just led by technology, like an offline social network for apartment buildings or talking traffic lights, trying to bridge the gaps of social isolation found in large cities.
I liked the event very much because it closely resembled the way we work at moovel lab. As a creative space within a company, we provide a work environment where teams can be formed around new ideas. These ideas will foster innovation around the topics of transport, urbanity and design solutions that we deal with at moovel.