From Rio to the Bay Area: Tools and Techniques for Global Collaboration

Connecting with Rio and the World on Crowdbrite from the Hub Bay Area

By Gregory Delaune, AICP

This post is part of the on-going event news, related to the Bay2Rio+20 delegation team coverage of Rio+20. It addresses the tools and techniques used in the on-line international charrette/workshop that took place simultaneously in San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 23rd; as well as future events.  To read more, click here.

With the help of new software platforms, like Crowdbrite, citizen participation forums and workshops in the digital age are becoming opportunities for highly transparent community-based  global interaction. The Bay2Rio+20 initiative is working to create interactive opportunities for people from all over the world to contribute to discussions that promote city-scale collaboration for sustainable development and policy innovation in the new Green Economy. On June 23rd, at the conclusion of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the Bay2Rio+20 team hosted an on-line global forum, inviting participants from around the world to share their thoughts and impressions regarding the outcomes from the UN process at two workshops that took place simultaneously in Rio and San Francisco (USA). In San Francisco, the event was hosted by the Hub Bay Area, which is a key partner in the HUB Global co-working network, already an established point of reference in the Shared Economy model for collaboration, networking and ideas exchange.

Utilizing the Crowdbrite platform, the Bay2Rio+20 team expanded the localized discussions in Rio and San Francisco to incorporate input from online participants who contributed their ideas and comments from home computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones from other parts of the world. Similar to many site-specific community workshops, the Rio and San Francisco events lasted only a few hours. However, with the use of this online platform, the workshop materials and participant comments remained available after the event, allowing for continuous and extended participant engagement and interaction that went on for weeks after the initial event.

This platform also provides simple tools for consolidating, organizing, monitoring, and reporting of project content outcomes and user statistics. Crowdsourcing platforms like Crowdbrite are part of a new set of digital tools that help accelerate the global dissemination and implementation of innovative ideas. In its first year of operation, Crowdbrite has significantly expanded the scope and transparency of online community collaboration, combining direct participation from more than 10,000 users with the expertise of its global network of professional experts and top designers specializing building better communities. Many more people have participated through online engagement, adding their contributions remotely from 186 different cities, and identifying projects in 20 different countries. Combined with expanding Internet and cell phone access in developing nations, crowdsourcing platforms like Crowdbrite have the potential to profoundly affect the democratization of global decision making processes. Already, this software has succeeded in expanding the scope of dialogue across continents and cultures, with the promise of creating new partnerships for progressive change.

The success of this interactive global event is evidenced by the expansive international network that is now following the Bay2Rio+20 Initiative on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and the attention the initiative has enjoyed from organizations in other parts of the world.

One example of this success is a current initiative by a community organizer in Senegal, who is working to duplicate the success of the Bay2Rio+20’s Innovation Bus, which toured Rio de Janeiro in the days leading up to the June 23rd workshop, promoting attendance at the event while showcasing examples of the innovative thinking that is coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Building on the momentum of the UN Conference in Rio, Bay2Rio+20 is now moving forward with events that will start to consolidate this global community into a network for global action, sharing ideas and launching pilot project initiatives through an online Global Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX Global). With the help of Crowdbrite, future online forums and events will periodically reunite this global community in the context of thematic workshops that address the complex issues and ongoing global challenges for achieving sustainable development goals. Major international events in San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, like the 2013 America’s Cup (SF), the 2014 World Cup (Rio) and the 2016 Olympics (Rio), will provide additional opportunities for concentrating attention on examples of best practices and innovation lessons that these two cities have to offer, while expanding city-scale collaborations to incorporate contributions from other cities around the world.

Gregory Delaune is Education and Outreach Coordinator for Bay2Rio+20 and the UIX: An urban planner specializing in technology and policy for sustainable economic development. Greg is coordinating institutional level public-private partnerships and collaboration for Bay Area special events, as well as long-term visioning for international expansion of the Bay2Rio+20 and UIX Global mandate.

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