Last Saturday we celebrated the first of the activities that we want to develop from UrbApps. A workshop in Valladolid where we were able to meet people from the code world , design, urbanism and the environment, more or less. Themixture that we want to create of people and groups that see possibilities for social transformation and improvement of cities using mobile technologies as a tool. A workshop in which the fear of “going out” with a first activity has been mixed with the illusion of moving something that we know where it starts but not where it ends and we see more possibilities than what now we are able to move. A workshop, with a lot of preparation effort, and with a perfect group of participants very interested in these issues, with people from Seville, Bilbao, Valencia, Madrid, Almería,… A workshop Finally, less ambitious than we would have liked, but thus leaving more things pending to give it continuity.

The approach in the end was focused on the initial proposal of eight themes on which to build a possible mobile application:

  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Instant information on where the buses are running on each line? How do you know if it is worth going to one stop or another? And how to know the best combination of lines? Where is the closest stop to where I am or where I am going to be this afternoon to go home? Can I give additional information to other users?
  • MAKE THE BIKE VISIBLE. Do you ride a bike? Don’t know which is the safest way? Do you want to highlight the safest routes? Can we collectively evaluate the ease of getting around by bike? And the safest or unsafe places to leave the bike?
  • LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO WORK FOR A WHILE. Do you have a little time between meetings? Won’t you stop by the office? What do you need to work? Where to find a work desk or Wi-Fi?
  • ANOTHER WAY OF DISCOVERING THE CITY. Any alternative to the classic guide? Can we give a more social context to discovering the city via mobile? Only for tourists or visitors from outside?
  • IT’S HAPPENING. There is the “official” city: what is on the maps, what is planned, what is indicated. Can we help highlight other situations, experiences or activities in the city that do not appear anywhere?
  • WALKING AROUND THE CITY. How to get from one place to another? Is it possible to add incentives to the routes? Suggest alternative routes? Crossing them with the availability of certain “resources” (shade, shops, easy access for people with reduced mobility, etc.?)
  • WE DO NOT THROW AWAY, WE REUSE. Any way to connect obsolete objects, people who simply do not want to throw them away, and people/groups who might need them?
  • MORE THAN GARDENS. How many parks and gardens are there in the city? What activities can be done? What services do you have? What state are they in? What species do they have?

In the formation of the teams, in the end the last three did not have enough interest and we discarded them (another thing that remains pending for the next time), and we kept the first five to work on issues of conceptualization (problem, environment in which it affects, killer function,…), user experience and use cases and first mockups (this is the part that, in future activities, we should expand more and work in another way because it is surely the one we leave more open). All this, without computers!

That was the idea, and that was also the risk, but after this workshop we have verified that the UrbApps proposal to create collaborative work contexts between people of different profiles makes sense to understand the environment -the city, the public, the common- in which we want to promote application development. The code will come later, as a tool. As I said a few weeks ago in The civic value of mobile apps:

Apps become one more way to break the traditional model of institutional intermediation of the citizen, which now expands their ability to intervene and hack the government to create collective solutions outside of traditional circuits. It arises like this, we have the possibility of giving a citizen orientation to the predominant paper discourse of technology in the city. In Ownership in the hybrid city , a highly recommended document by Michiel de Lange and Martijn de Waal , co-founders of The Mobile City , we found keys to give a sense of citizen appropriation to digital technological possibilities in the design of digital services and tools, a change of perspective based on three pillars: the city as a platform for data that should be of collective “ownership”, digital media as instruments of collective action, co-creation and self-organization and the ability to add more actors and audiences to issues of public interest.

The work format, very much based on the groups generating concrete results and visualization techniques, really helped each group to progress well and, although after a whole morning the avalanche of results may seem chaotic, good material came out. It is up to us to organize these results -we will notify the participants of this- and soon we will also be able to have a video summary of the whole morning thatZeus and Jorge are working really hard (thank you!).

For now I can leave this document, which are nothing more than illustrations that I used to very briefly present at the beginning of the workshop why we have set up UrbApps and how we want to move it:

This is the beginning. After holding this first workshop we are already preparing a calendar of activities in different cities. Meanwhile, if you are interested in our activities you can contact contactwith us, and I will continue telling news here.

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