"Urban Decor": free, transparent and social. Here's how to dialogue with public administrations and actively participate in the improvement of your city. It is not just a question of aesthetics but of respect for the environment and for those who live there. We. Fabrizio Verrocchi he tells us how it was born, what it became in two years and what it could become ... even landing in America.
1) Urban Decor: what is it about?
Urban decoration was born in early 2011 to build a direct line between citizens and institutions, taking advantage of the extreme capillarity of smartphones and the power of social media. The project allows anyone to personally contribute to the care of their city, collaborating with the administration by reporting problems in real time, on freely accessible maps for over 8000 Italian municipalities. Urban decoration is a no-profit initiative, free for citizens and administrations, created by Maiora Labs, a "startup laboratory" that has been operating in the ITC sector since 2010.
2) What can be reported and how?
The categories currently available are waste, vandalism and neglect, road failure, degradation of green areas, illegal signage and billboards. To make a report, the user must create their own profile on the website Urban decoration: from that moment you can send reports from there or from the free app for iPhone and Android devices. The reports coming from smartphones are geolocated via the GPS of the device, while the address must be entered from the web in a special field. From that moment, the report is public and a Municipality can change its status, from "pending" to "in charge" and finally "resolved".
3) How many municipalities are there today? What kind of reports do you receive?
In 2 years Urban decoration welcomed more than 80 municipal administrations for over 20 thousand signalers throughout Italy. A decidedly heterogeneous community was formed, united by commitment and civic sense. Adding up the residents of the "Active Municipalities" we can say that today about 4.5 million citizens have the opportunity to use this tool to request and obtain answers from their municipal administrations. A decidedly encouraging result for a self-financed project promoted exclusively through the Web.
4) What response did institutions and PAs give to your stimulus?
During these three years we have seen the most diverse reactions. From those who welcomed us with to those who did everything to avoid us. Overall, the experience is decidedly positive, often the PAs contact us following the many reports of their residents, other times they are municipalities that "play in advance". From the beginning, the response of the municipalities was beyond our expectations: 85 are certainly not few. A sponsorship with an eco-friendly reality or public funding would allow us to accelerate and evolve the service in many directions, guaranteeing its stability over time.
5) Do you have collaborations with universities or other realities?
With Urban decoration we were among the co-founders of Wikitalia. Our peculiarities have also reached the university world: we are the subject of various degree theses and we begin to be considered a source of data. By issuing the reports in Open Data, Urban decoration provides data of undoubted interest constantly produced by citizens, accessible for statistical purposes, research and integration with other services.
6) What does your collaboration with #salvaiciclisti consist of?
On bike.decorourbano.org there is a thematic map with all the reports relating to cycling, in support of the campaign and which, over time, has collected almost two hundred reports.
7) CleanApp: what is it? How is it intertwined with your project?
CleanApp is a project conceived by an American university professor, which aims to replicate the "model" Urban decoration (free service for citizens and PA, open data, open code, transparency) and to apply it on a global scale.