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How Falling Off a Bike Made Me Want to Build a Crowd Powered City

I remember the shock of being on the tarmac with traffic and trucks narrowly missing me on the busy familiar road I had been cycling on for 12...


I remember the shock of being on the tarmac with traffic and trucks narrowly missing me on the busy familiar road I had been cycling on for 12 years in London. I inadvertently drove my bike into a pothole. Like the proverbial Alice in Wonderland, I went through the rabbit hole and started thinking about the city and the neighborhood I live in, particularly why citizens seem helpless to do anything to fix their streets.

Since I am a designer of mobile operating systems I am used to creating feedback loops for users to file bugs so that we can improve software systems. The challenge of applying this sort of thinking to cities is to create an evolutionary operating system that is not merely a one way bug-reporting tool that files complaints to already overworked city councils, but a two-way bug solving tool that citizens can use to come together to crowdsource solutions to common problems, help optimize and share scarce resources, and possibly crowd-fund those solutions with local businesses, neighbors, and town councils.


So I started Changify, a mobile crowdpowered platform as an experiment to see if people were interested in taking photos of problems they spotted in their neighborhoods, sharing them with their friends, and having local communities vote on their favorite solutions. As a mobile reporting, voting, and funding platform for civic issues and ideas to solve them, my aim is to take social media discovery and action back to the streets, empowering simple, immediate sourcing of issues using photos, tags, and social network sharing.

But I’m not alone. The discussion around building smarter cities is getting louder and louder. Our cities have a rich history of human innovation and intervention that has enabled them to thrive and grow under very daunting conditions. At the heart of many of these stories are citizens using quick thinking, resourcefulness. If we can bottle up some of that crowd intelligence and increasingly work together using crowdsourced data, crowd created solutions to common problems—local problems like the pothole I fell into in London, might emerge as a set of global design patterns. A local solution to a civic problem might be piloted in London, then localized and improved upon in Mumbai, only to emerge as a cost-effective solution to a similar problem in New York. That’s my dream for crowd-powered better cities.

Priya Prakash is one of 40 speakers and 200 attendees at the RE-WORK Cities global meeting of minds being held in London on December 13.

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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