Mixing it Up – A New Way to Engage Citizens in Planning

Streetmix is an interactive street section builder that helps community members mockup the streets they’d like to live on and offer these mockups as future plans for city officials and planners. It is a tool that was funded and under the wing of Code for America, which is also a good source for other community engagement technology tools that are emerging and getting funded. Code for America is a non-partisan, non-political 501 organization founded in 2009 to address the widening gap between the public and private sectors in their effective use of technology and design.

Streetmix is a great tool for planning, which is a major component of local government that needs more ways to engage the public. Choices surrounding what to do with certain neighborhoods, corridors, and underused space is critical towards creating sustainable neighborhoods within communities. Streetmix is a way for planners to get interactive feedback on what community members would like to see. They don’t have to do mock ups. The community does it for them. Here is a neat demo from their appearance at Code for America.

Back in 2013, when it was first founded, the site was used by a variety of different communities. It was used by Sioux Center, Iowa residents to protest the widening of highways, has been forked into Spanish for Mexico City planners and and by Cleveland to advocate for bike lanes. I am expecting it will inspire future planners to create other ways to engage citizens.

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