A great way to engage people in collaboration is sometimes introducing a tiny competition among a community. In the past 5 years various academic research showed that gamification of certain tasks can create an incentive for harder work by making the achievements more playful. (Gamification: The the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.) I would like to implement this framework within the context of city improvement.
A smartphone application will be designed and developed that will enable the users to take a photo of the unpleasant problems (ie. potholes on the road, broken sidewalks, etc) in their neighbourhoods and then, submit them to the system. Each image will be geotagged (the GPS coordinates will be recorded along with the image, automatically )and thus can be mapped accurately. Every submission brings points to the user. The users will compete with their friends with the calculated scores. The each post will be seen publicly on city map on the website and hopefully motivate the local administration to fix it. As the problems are fixed the user will earn more points. At the end of each week, top 5 users of highest number of fixed posts will be the heroes of their neighbourhood and will be displayed on the website if they choose to.
The system will eventually evolve into a public system for auditing the success of the local municipalities. Data collected within the system will enable us to measure numbers and the nature of the problems occurring in the cities as well as the response time of the municipality. In time, the system will become a metric for efficiency and will enable the citizens to assess their local authorities.