Today, September 20th, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will open up voting for the finalist of the “New Perspectives MBTA Map Re-design Competition.” The competition, which began this past spring, is a crowdsourcing initiative to get the citizens of Boston informed and involved in changes to the public transportation system.
Before the competition began, many skeptics argued that it would fail because the incentives for designers to create a map were so low–there was no cash reward. Rather than failing, however, the competition flourished, with dozens of designers and cartographers submitting innovative maps.
After careful review, a panel of MBTA employees, urban planners, and cartographers has chosen 6 maps that they believe best represent the public transportation system. Now, it is up to T riders to vote for the winning map.
The crowdsourcing initiative led by the MBTA has so far proven successful. For one, it has saved the cash-strapped government agency money that it can now allocate elsewhere. For another, and more importantly, it has created lots of buzz around the new infrastructural changes in Boston. Citizens are able to actively participate in the process and get their opinions heard. It serves as a direct line of communication between the MBTA and T riders.
Government use of crowdsourcing in Boston is quickly becoming more and more prominent, as it sparks innovation and gets changes implemented quickly. In addition to the MBTA map redesign, the city is currently running several other crowdsourcing campaigns. Boston Bikes, for example, gives bikers the ability to submit frequent routes and dangerous intersections. This allows urban planners to make necessary changes to the roads and paths. Similarly, Citizens Connect 2.0, gives Bostonians the ability to connect directly to the mayor’s office and report any potholes, graffiti, or other public damage that they would like to be fixed. Adopt-a-Hydrant is another campaign where citizens can volunteer to shovel out hydrants in their neighborhood after snowstorms.
These crowdsourcing initiatives in Boston are helping to create a safer and tighter community. It gets citizens involved in local decisions and holds government accountable. We see this trend continuing. Now we can glimpse a day when crowdsourcing will be the norm in Boston, and in communities throughout the country.
Launcht provides custom crowdsourcing and online voting competition platforms. Click here if you want to learn more.