Friday, December 21, 2012

Municipal Crowdsourcing

Last week I participated in a great event planned by the Holon municipality to involve the city's residents in shaping its future. There were free refreshments (hot beverages and tasty cakes) after registration, an exhibition of the city's future plans, mingling with the mayor and other dignitaries walking around, then some speeches followed by workgroups where the residents' comments were gathered by city officials.

I was impressed by the quiet and polite atmosphere in my workgroup (Economic Growth), the civilized discussion and good ideas raised. There is a flurry of building in Holon's large industrial area. High rise office buildings are raised alongside shopping and leisure areas. We debated the types of businesses Holon should attract: hi-tech, medical centers, workshops, services (dentists, lawyers, accountants, alternative therapists)? Today 60% of the residents work in other cities, how do we lower this figure to 40%? How do we preserve and improve the city center?

Holon is a well-managed city, continuously getting prizes for its financial management, its parks and other aspects. It branded itself as the city of children and design, and has numerous cultural establishments.

The municipality reps seemed very professional and knowledgeable about their subjects. They invested a lot of thought in planning the city's future and the event. At this point you are most probably waiting for a "BUT", as everything I described sounds almost too good to be true.

At the end of the event, I congratulated one of the city officials in my workgroup for a job well done. "Our residents tell us for free what consultants would tell us for a lot of money."