City Challenges

Digital Neighbourhood

Here, Aarhus municipality shares a project that is very interesting in the terms of co-creation. In Harlev, a village close to Aarhus, a new installation was created a while ago. The installation is a combination of a telephone booth and a blackboard for ideas and plays a special role in the village. The installation is a part of a project called Digital Neighbourhood (in Danish “Digital Bydel”) which articulates a paradigm shift in the media architecture and the way authorities communicate and engage with citizens.  

Citizen’s Services manages the project in partnership with the Alexandra Institute. The aim of the project is to co-create solutions with the citizens addressing how a municipality can inform, involve and engage in dialogue with citizens in new ways through the increased use of digital solutions in the urban landscape.

The City of Aarhus is facing a big change in the way it communicates with citizens. The public sector is deeply involved in the development of strategies that ensure the most efficient service of citizens. A result of this process is that access points have become mainly digital, whereas previously citizens were required to present themselves in person.

Neighbourhoods as the key to citizen involvement
The authorities are busy trying to inform citizens about this paradigm shift and tailoring their dialogue with citizens accordingly. The tools used are cooperation and marketing initiatives aimed at particular target groups (the elderly, young people, vulnerable citizens etc.) in combination with more general nationwide campaigns. With Digital Neighbourhood, the City of Aarhus wants to test a different approach based on the places people live: the neighbourhoods.

The paradigm shift also characterizes dramatic developments of the so-called media architecture. What happens when digitization is everywhere – with smartphones, self-service stations and data collection all over the city? What is important when architects, town planners and service developers are developing urban spaces with data and digital devices as tools? How can a municipality use these new capabilities to enhance urban spaces and services and thereby engage in dialogue with citizens?

Co-creation in process
Concentrating on issues of topical interest where something is at stake for the citizens in the various neighbourhoods, the project encourages participants to develop concepts and models that demonstrate how the municipality can use digital media to promote citizenship and a sense of commitment among locals.

To return to the installation in Harlev, all the inhabitants received a couple of tokens to use in the telephone booth where they had the possibility to lift the receiver and leave a project idea in form of a message. The purpose of the installation was to combine the classic analog involvement with a digital approach and thereby involve both young and old people. This initiative was a success and has since been used in other cities near Aarhus (Beder and Malling).

Lyserødteelfon Blåtelefon

More information

Project manager, Torben Glock: e

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