Civic Hacking: New Tools for Participatory Planning

Urban Planning

Fall 2012

Georgia Bullen, instructor

“Civic” – (adj) of, or pertaining to a city, citizens, citizenship; e.g. civic engagement “Hacking” – (v) activity done by “hackers,” usually meaning computer related, but generalized to people who reuse, repurpose or bend processes, tools, etc to be used for other means; e.g. hacking the system. Technology is changing how people interact with the environment and how we understand the environment itself. Social Media, cell phones, social networking, crowdsourcing, apps and other Web tools all provide a window into how people move, interact, feel and even see spaces. These tools, plus the Open Data Movement, have started to bridge the worlds of civic engagement and technology with cities and city agencies hosting “hackathons” and “app competitions.” Fundamentally technology of this type changes the relationship between citizen and city, reinvigorating conversations about power, access and democracy. This workshop class evolved from the Crowd Sourced City Class (FA10, FA11) and explored the tools available for civic hacking in real life applications, focusing on using the human-centered design process to change the future of participatory planning.