Sunday, January 11, 2015

Civic Intelligence in a City ~~ Is There Any way to Characterize it?

As many of you know, I’m interested in understanding, describing / defining, and cultivating civic intelligence. Civic intelligence is the collective capacity of groups of people to work together to address significant shared challenges effectively and equitably. We don’t have a word in common usage for this phenomenon but I feel that “civic intelligence” is the best expression for the job. 

One of the things I’m doing as part of this work is trying to come up with ways to characterize (if not measure) the civic intelligence of various collectivities (for example colleges*, towns, or NGOs). Ideally through this work we’d be able to better understand the state of civic intelligence and, possibly, be able to compare and contrast diverse collectivities to some degree. 

I’ve now come up with a set of 10 proposed proxy measures (below) to determine the degree of civic intelligence in a city, state, or other political unit. Ideally I would like to use these proxies to begin to work through a process where we came up some viable outcome based on these. 

I’m realizing that although I do not have the resources for this (time, money, knowledge, or brain power for starters) I still want to proceed. (I’m of the opinion that if something is worth doing, it should be done!) The question is how could this be crowd-sourced** to get around the various resource deficits. 

I’d like to see some findings from Seattle — where I live — but wouldn’t it be great if we could do this in other places simultaneously. Also, of course, the people working on this under-funded labor of love could learn more over time and modify and improve the process. 

Here they are — the list is still a draft; the order might be wrong and  there might be redundancy or missing patterns.***

(1) Responsive government
(2) Knowledge — shared throughout the city and diverse — about the environment — natural and otherwise 
(3) Social (political, educational, cultural) engagement
(4) Social capital
(5) Health and well-being
(6) Opportunities — economic and other
(7) Relative equality of inhabitants
(8) Integrity (transparency and lack of corruption)
(9) Good neighborliness (doesn’t take more than it needs; or export its problems…)****
(10) Availability of open and  diverse information and communication systems

I'd love to have your thoughts on this.

* I don’t like the term “crowd-source” — especially in a situation like this!

** I do also have something related to colleges and universities that’s reasonably well-developed — I think. I’m also hoping  to move  forward with that. 

*** But my strong feeling is that the point is not to get this down to a very small number of proxies.  

**** Basically this is related to evaluating  the effects of consumption or production of  policies, social mores, economic transactions, pollution, people or products, climate of the city being  looked at in relation to other cities, rural areas, etc. 

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