Beth Noveck is Director of the Governance Lab and a member of the Engaged Cities Award review committee. As part of an ongoing series, we asked her a few questions about the award and her own work.
The Engaged Cities Award aims to find and elevate some of the most successful and diverse ways that city leaders are actively engaging their citizens to solve critical public problems. Why do you think a recognition program like this is important?
When cities and their residents work together to solve problems, those solutions are more likely to be both effective and legitimate. Communities bring the expertise and lived experience needed to develop solutions that work. It is vital to showcase how cities are doing this in order that others might learn from the experience.
What are you working on now that would be particularly interesting to people who care about helping citizens and cities collaborate to solve public problems?
At the Governance Lab, we have been designing and studying ways in which public officials and the public can work together efficiently, leveraging the collective intelligence of the broader community. Our work focuses on the importance of beginning with problem definition and including training to ensure that ideas are feasible and implementable.
Communities bring the expertise and lived experience needed to develop solutions that work.
Can you tell us an anecdote from your own work about how you’ve seen technology help citizens and cities collaborate to solve problems?
There are now hundreds of examples of CrowdLaw, namely using technology to connect policymaking processes to the collective intelligence of the public to improve the quality of lawmaking. Over 460,000 residents of Madrid, for example, have signed up for the city’s crowdlaw platform called Decide, which enables people to propose policies for the city council to consider. In Reykjavik, half the population is signed up for Better Reykjavik and every month the mayor’s office reviews the top five citizen-made proposals for implementation.