An Agenda for Engaged Scholarship for Open Philadelphia.
Rapid digitalization, open data initiative, and open innovation open up new opportunities to address some of the toughest challenges that our society is facing today. New forms of approaches such as civic hacking are emerging as a potential way of leveraging these new trends. Such efforts require a creative re-arrangement of existing institutional roles among different stakeholders such as governments at different level, business, non-for-profit organizations and civic activities and community organizers. It also requires a new form of technical platform through which existing data is opened up for sharing and new solutions can be conceived and tested. Such technical platforms must be supported through a social infrastructure that governs data access, intellectual property, privacy and other social issues. The city of Philadelphia has been a nexus of these activities recently. The city has active open data initiative through a public-private partnership. It has an active civic hackers community who organize a series of civic hackathons in conjunction with different organizations. The city was selected twice in a row by Code for America who created several novel civic apps. The city government just launched Urban Mechanics – a unit that is dedicated to pursue open innovation including open data initiative. Finally, the city just appointed its first Chief Data Officer who has been a leader of the open data initiative and civic hacking.
In order to catalyze the civic innovation opportunities in Philadelphia and build a scalable model of urban civic innovations using digital technology, Temple University started Urban Apps & Maps Studios – a university-wide interdisciplinary research and development program. In the presentation, I will describe the basic design philosophy behind the Urban Apps & Maps program as well as some of the working hypotheses that we are testing. The approach is based on the unique material characteristic of digital technology. I will use this as an example of engaged scholarship.