The Pittsburgh Citiwiki Project
As a recipient of one of PennDOT’s PCTI grants, The Mellon Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University was awarded funding to create an online collaborative transportation planning network*. Towards that end, they have started the Pittsburgh CitiWiki Project; a website intended to open and expand the planning process for Pittsburgh’s transportation issues, by involving the citizenry through the online ‘wiki.’
The basic idea of a ‘wiki’ is best explained by wikipedia. Someone posts the information they have about a topic, others come along and add/edit information on the same post. The hope is that this collaboration of brainpower results in the most detailed, accurate information on a given topic, while representing a variety of viewpoints. The wiki also allows you to easily create links to other sections of the wiki which means multiple pages and easy navigation.
While the specific goal of this wiki is to promote a collaborative approach to designing the Pittsburgh Regional Integrated Transportation Plan, it is an approach that they plan to adapt to other initiatives. Chip Walter, executive editor, writes,
CitiWiki is an experiment in collaborative creativity conceived and created here in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing else quite like it in the world. Our goal over time is to harness the intellectual firepower of the Pittsburgh region’s thoughtful citizenry to make our city and the region that surrounds us as vibrant, diverse and exciting as possible.
In the coming months we will be developing Pittsburgh CitiWikis on a variety of subjects from business, diversity and education to entertainment, recreation and the arts — whatever can improve the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania. We have an inviting city, but the goal of these wikis is to help fulfill Pittsburgh’s potential and transform it into a WORLD CLASS city, a leader in the best kind of urban living.
Take some time to navigate through the pages (FYI some of the pages are only accessible if you register as a contributor). You will notice that they have pages where you can list resources, view the wiki history (who changed what and when), and even a place to sign up for email alerts of changes as they happen. They also have a suggestion page for people who aren’t sure where their information would fit best.
As you look around, please consider whether this is this something that could be adapted to any of our needs here in the Lehigh Valley. Is this a productive way to engage the citizenry? If so, would the Lehigh Valley citizenry be likely to participate? What topics might be useful to have as wikis here in the valley? We’d love to hear any of your thoughts on this.