My big idea for cities in 2012: Transforming visions into reality…

Queen's Necklace when the jewels aren't shining
Creative Commons License photo credit: SaGaR PuRo

At The Urban Vision, We recognize that cities are at the heart of some of the most pressing problems the world faces today – whether it is climate change or poverty. We believe that they are also at the heart of the solution to these pressing problems. We like to focus on showcasing ideas that can turn cities into an opportunity.

However, I recognise that to transform these visions into reality is not easy.

I recognize that the answer towards solving a lot of the world ‘s biggest problems whether poverty or climate change is not so much about design or ideas as much as it’s about leadership. The leadership that is desperately needed to generate transformative change is absent at this point in time.

To transform our visions into reality we need to do multiple things. But I believe empowering the citizens and the community is key. As the saying goes “The most important political office is that of the citizen”. It is ‘us’ who have to contribute to build a better community that we dream of.

One disruptive / change driver idea that could really augment citizen participation in planning is technology. We know how  social media like Facebook / Twitter allows us  to Connect / Collaborate and organize ourselves as a community. We have all been activists on facebook at some point or another. So it is that time we put these Web 2.0  tools to use towards a good cause.

Patrick Geddes who is widely acknowledged as the father of modern urban planning acknowledged the importance of civic engagement. His “Outlook Tower” in Edinburgh, Scotland, which can be best described as “city observatory”, “museum” or a “civic laboratory,” demonstrates how citizen engagement was at the heart of city planning process.

My big idea for this year is technology tools that create opportunities for a one-on-one and conversational relationship between policy makers / public leaders and the citizens. I am interested in “Web 2.0” tools and the opportunity it presents to enable communication and collaboration in the civic space.

I have been curating a Video Journal called to document some ideas in this space.

* “Web 2.0” can be described as technologies like  wikis, podcasting, blogging, social networking sites which is an inventive way to connect the collective intelligence of  diverse set of communities and experts.

What is your one big idea for cities in 2012? Submit a blog post to along with a bio & Pic.

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About the Author

Prathima Manohar Prathima Manohar is the Founder of the Urbanism think do-tank “The Urban Vision . Prathima holds a bachelors degree in Architecture. She was awarded Stanford University’s prestigious Draper Hills Fellowship bestowed to rising international stars who work on issues related to Democracy and Development in 2011. She has been a Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center Fellow where she studied ICT for Good Governance, Gov 2.0 as well as entrepreneurship, Adaptive Leadership and Strategic Planning. She consults on urban design & urban policy related subjects with architecture and large development firms. As an urbanist, she has worked on projects and researched on issues such as placemaking , affordable housing, participatory planning and green cities. She has been a contributing columnist on architecture, urban development and design with India’s Leading News daily – The Times of India. She has been a contributing TV Journalist with France24 and TF1 where she did news reports and several documentaries on Indian economy, Developmental and Cultural issues. She has also written for the opinion pages of the International Herald Tribune , The Wall Street Journal and has reviewed for the Architecture Record. In 2017 , She was listed as top 50 Most Impactful Global Social Innovators at World CSR Day. She was awarded by the iGen Design Forum 2016 as the top 50 Next Generation Architects driving innovations in Indian Urbanscape . She was among Global Honourees of 2009 CONSIUSA’s “Young Leaders Program” which reconizes emerging leaders under the age of 40, who have distinguished themselves and have demonstrated leadership qualities and potential in various careers