What Would Make Your Neighbourhood A Better Place To Live?

As you may remember from our “walk through” guide to help stimulate ideas for ourcompetition, we started off by looking at what skills people wanted to learn and share and then onto what would make it easier for them to use technology.

From the workshops to the ideas

From showing people how to cook to encouraging young people into sport via access to tech savvy people, many of the ideas build on people’s personal motivations to either learn or share a skill with other people which is often the easiest way of getting people to help each other in their neighbourhood.

Similarly, as we haven’t asked people to focus too much on the technicalities of the technology (we have our next phase where web designers and developers will be able to get their hands dirty with that!), many people want simple solutions from being able to access information in a single place to being able to contact people in your neighbourhood via getting text alerts when your bin needs emptying.

Visualisation of Answers to

Designing technology around the interaction we have with place

So our next step was to enable people to reflect on what would make their neighbourhood a better place. You can see the responses here, as well as the photos above and visualisation below.

It was very striking how much people focused on what physical improvements were needed, whether it was making their streets cleaner or look more appealing – from camouflaging bins to introducing more squirrels amongst the quirkiest ideas – and what behaviour changes could help improve community spirit – from community payback to street parties.

Much has already been written about the impact of place (@davidbarrie) and the way it looks and feels on the behaviours (@juliandobson) of the people that live there, but when we start to think of how technology can help people help each other in their neighbourhoods, maybe we need to start with how people relate to the spaces they live and interact in them, to understand where and how geographic-centred technology (i.e. mapping or augmented reality) can be designed around that?

Over to you!

If you’ve developed similar competitions or if you’ve taken part in a competition and would like to blog your thoughts, get in touch and we’ll feature the best on this blog.

And if you’ve just got a good idea on how to help people help each in their neighbourhoods or to make it easier to report issues to your council, check our own competition out with up to £3000 in prizes!

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks, Noel…wondering if these are universal needs identified by citizens (i.e. would Americans say that they desire the same things?)

Noel Hatch

It depends what we mean by universal needs, we really focused on the level of the neighbourhood, so it wouldn’t necessarily have elicited needs which are universal as such (like healthcare, education, democracy). The reason for this was to help citizens rethink how they could help each other rather than how government should improve. The other reason was to make the solutions put forward practical enough that developers and designers could work them up (that’s the next stage here!)

Would Americans have a different perspective to how they thought about their needs (is there a greater sense of self sufficiency?)

Joseph Porcelli


I started http://www.neighborsforneighbors.org, a soundboard for voices and springboard for action.

The goal is to help neighbors discover what they have in common so that the’ll do thing with and for each other.

The technology serves to keep people connected and collaborating when they are not meeting or doing things in together in person.

Top 3 lessons we learned:

  1. Do things together in person.
  2. Support those who are willing to lead with encouragement and knowledge
  3. It’s got to be fun and address current and evolving needs

Hope this helps.