One of the most important assets of Iran today is its social capital. Social capital can be considered as the collective value generated from the impact of cultural components of a social system composed of sub-components such as trust, voluntary participation, professional norms, accountability.
Social capital can lead to economic development, institutional performance, and quality of governance.
Closed social capital based of bonds such as links to people based on a sense of common identity
(“people like us”) – such as family, close friends and people who share our culture or ethnicity has a negative impact on development so in today’s Iran we need models to promote open social capital or bridges that stretch beyond a shared sense of identity.
One of those models is civic engagement or civic participation where any individual activity is done with the intent to protect public values or make a change or difference in the community. Obviously, the goal of civic engagement is to address public concerns and promote the quality of the community.
Using Internet and digital technologies, a good set of tools to achieve civic engagement are civic crowdsourcing platforms which cluster a variety of technologies — digital platforms for gathering ideas, opinions, and expertise — that result in the improvement of the society.
When deploying digital technologies to identify and reach out to the expertise of citizens, individually or collectively, it’s important to think about the norms and values of the society. If civic crowdsourcing holds the promise to improve the outcomes of public policy, enhance the participatory process, and increase democratic legitimacy, we need to ask if all three of these aspirations can be realized or whether we must face tradeoffs in designing civic crowdsourcing technologies that emphasize one aspiration over others.
Shahriban.com is a team effort by Sirwan, Arash and I from Kurdsoftware group to design and run a collaborative location based platform where citizens of Sanandaj (and other cities in the future) can participate in identifying the urban problems and reporting them. People can use Shahriban website as well as Shahriban Bot in Telegram, the most popular instant messaging in Iran to report problems, give suggestions, and discuss their ideas and solutions to the existing problems regarding roads and transportation, traffic, Environmental Health, Garbage collection, Brightness of the passageways, Road problem (frostbite, falling mountains, pit, landslide), Cutting down trees and damaging natural resources, Unsafe road infrastructure, Unauthorized construction and Unfinished development projects.
The very first versions of Shahriban platform has been initially developed and lunched over a course of 3-day self-supported hackathon on May 2018, and since new versions is being released.
There is no commercial plans for Shahriban yet and we want to make it as usable and useful as possible so citizens would use it often.
Any comments and ideas would be appreciated.