Young People Should Always Set the Agenda, and the Smart City Is No Different

Civic innovation is a great way to force people's hands, let's not be ignored in the decision making process any longer.

Ever heard of civic innovation? No, probably not. But local Government certainly has, as it's being hailed as a potential saviour to Council provision to help ease the onslaught of central Government cuts. This affects young people massively, with the deconstruction of physical support infrastructure, where do you turn?

It looks like youth unemployment certainly isn't going anywhere in the UK as it have pretty much on 20% over the last 15 years thanks to data provided by The World Bank. In fact it's higher than North Korea but of course that has something to do with being thrown into the army as soon as you can walk, don't get any ideas Mr Cameron.

Is it time we as a community looked at utilising civic technology before Local Government is forced to? I genuinely believe it's an opportunity for the citizens who live in our neighbourhoods to set the agenda, and that goes especially for our young people.

With the rise of open data, it's the perfect time for the community to start developing their own projects and holding local decision makers accountable, and seriously I'm all for giving Politicians hell.

So how do we do it? It helps if you can code or have some basic experience with design but I believe you just need to have the passion for social change and the will to see something through. Any search engine will tell you civic tech is about creating apps or web platforms but it's a lot more broad than that, to me the most powerful tool you have is in your pocket, your smartphone. To me an innovative campaign is just setting up a Twitter account, find a social trend in your community, take photos and constantly Tweet your local MP until they take action; don't get bogged down with the buzzwords.

Okay, what about using open data? Try this for a quick exercise, head to and type in your postcode to 'Find your neighbourhood', have a look at what the biggest crime issue is for your area, screenshot it and then Tweet it to your Police and Crime Commissioner to open a dialogue. You could even set up a Wordpress site and start a campaign to change the issue, and then wham; you have your own civic tech project and you didn't need to code a single line.

Collaboration is encouraged too, if you have a social issue you want to change ask around at College or University for developers, create a platform that talks about stuff that affects young people like youth unemployment, document those conversations digitally and force it in front of Local Government. The best Youth Policy Advisors in the country are our young and Parliament needs to realise that sooner rather than later.

Civic innovation is a great way to force people's hands, let's not be ignored in the decision making process any longer.


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