Rodrigo Davies

Thoughts on Neighborly, civic crowdfunding and the future of community development

Crowdfunding Cities as Collaborative Innovation

03 Aug 2014

Today at the Academy of Management's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia some colleagues and I will be giving a panel titled Towards Government 2.0: Open Data and Innovation through Cross-Sector Collaboration. We're going to be talking about open data, building better and more open government services, and how to foster civic collaboration across sectors.

Unfortunately I won't be at the meeting in person (I'm in the midst of relocating to San Francisco), so I've contributed a video in which I talk about some of the work I've done on crowdfunding in cities.

I'm interested in how crowdfunding can be a means not just of getting something done (i.e. a funding mechanism), but a means of getting something done in a particular way: collaboratively.

The crowd in a crowdfunding campaign collaborates ambiently – by contributing in the same place, they benefit from mutual awareness and together create a movement that has momentum. But in civic crowdfunding there's also another layer of possible collaboration, between the crowd and cities, because cities are likely to have an interest in almost any project that provides a service to a local community. That interest could be regulatory (the city regulates the use of a particular kind of space or activity), or it could be participatory (the city wants to know what's going on and to support good ideas). Those interests could be construed positively or negatively, depending on the relationship between the city and the project participants – the city could be perceived as supportive and welcoming, or heavy-handed and interfering.

Crowdfunding has the potential to help structure those relationships positively, if cities and project owners approach the project in the right way. The substance of my talk, which you can check out below, is to give four suggestions for how cities can frame structure their involvement in civic crowdfunding projects to deliver the best outcomes. You'll also be able to read more on this in an upcoming collection I'm contributing to on Smarter Cities, edited by Esteve Almirall and Boyd Cohen.

As ever, your comments and feedback are much appreciated. Now that I'm in the Bay Area, if you're local and working on similar topics, please reach out.