Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | October 6, 2010

Crowdsourced Activism

Wikipedia works because of the energetic voluteerism of a dedicated core of users. We can harness this same crowdsourced dedication in Kuwait to help improve our public spaces. Everyone has a camera-phone now, and most newer models have the ability of adding geotagging information on photographs they take. This means that every photo has the GPS coordinates of the location in which the photo was taken.

What if some government entity creates a website where people can upload photos they take of things they feel are broken or wrong, such as graffiti, broken lamps, potholes, whatever. These photos are uploaded to the website by a few people wanting to do good for their community. Not everyone has to do this, just as with Wikipedia where only a small fraction of the total users are actively editing and creating articles.

The website becomes a real time ‘to do’ list for the goverment. The people posting to it are the eyes on the ground that can direct the action that needs to take place. Mechanisms can be put in place whereby if a week goes by and a ‘to do’ isn’t fixed then a flag goes up and the person in charge of fixing it gets a penalty. All this needs is a few people to oversee the website and collate the data and send the alerts to the people that need to fix the problem; meaning a photo of a broken lamp would be forwarded to the sub-contractors in charge of fixing them.

The internet is a great way of connecting people together. I can be so much more than Facebook.



  1. […] of the problem with the geo-tag. I think that would be an amazing idea. Here is a link to their [Post] Oct 6, […]

  2. Love your idea 🙂 its worthwhile putting an effort in such things rather than wasting time in games on facebook.

  3. This could be groundbreaking, who could you send/ approach with the idea? KFAS, Amiri Diwan?

    • I’m not really sure. There’s nothing expensive about the process, so it doesn’t need any real investment beyond setting up the website. So I don’t see what can be said to justify not doing it.

  4. Love the idea… Needs someone (or a department) to take ownership of it. I hope it’s adopted. Well done!

  5. This is potentialy a great idea however its not always the Baladiya’s fault; it is the people themselves that are the problem. There is a pile of rubbish, it is then removed today, tomorrow you go out and there is another pile of rubbish. As long as the rubbish is being removed people think ‘Great the Baladiya are removing my rubbish’ so they keep putting the garbage in the same place all the time. In order to turn this into a solution there needs to be strict laws and penalties prohibiting the dumping of rubbish in public places. It is the people who make this country potentially very dirty not the Balidiya! It is wrong to always blame other people (Baladiya) when construction companies are just as much to blame dumping huge amounts of construction rubble in public places. And hasn’t anyone ever heard of complete streets…. We can all change for the better we just have to ‘do’ rather than just ‘talk’

    • Well, it’s not as simple as that. Why are people putting their rubbish there? Maybe it’s convenient for them. If so, why isn’t there a big garbage container? Sure, people are to blame for throwing stuff on the floor, but sometimes there isn’t a place to put it even if you try looking. Happens to me all the time.

      On the other hand, what I was suggesting shouldn’t be seen as a condemnation of the Baladiya. Even if things were working really well (and in most cases they are) then adding this extra layer of interaction and data collection will only help make things better. I’m not trying to blame anyone.

      The thing is, we don’t pay taxes. So we don’t really feel any sense of ownership towards our public spaces beyond a sort of nationalistic pride. If I was paying taxes to keep my streets well maintained and my garbage collected on time, then i’d be damn sure to demand the best possible service. Since we don’t pay anything, we don’t really care what happens as long as we’re not being personally inconvenienced. This is a terrible way to run the country as evidenced by the Kuwaiti psyche of not caring about public space at all.

      It’s a shame because money isn’t a problem at all. We’re just not demanding well designed and maintained public spaces. What I was trying to suggest is that we can, through the website, create a tool for people to invest their time in creating a better country for themselves and their fellow citizens.

  6. good start

  7. Great Idea, I am reporting the the Bidoon need your help. they need clean housing, clean water, medicine, and more important the ability to make a living.

    I wish you put your effort something more noble than potholes.

    • Well, I really understand your frustration, but I think you’re asking the wrong person here. What you’re looking for is a political solution to a political problem. It has nothing to do with urban design or architecture, which is the focus of this website.

      I sometimes talk about social issues and how urban renewal can impact neighborhoods for example, and I do go off topic a few times and talk about education and other things; but that’s because these are topics that I have some basic understanding of the problems involved. I don’t really know much about anything else really, and for me to offer an opinion without really knowing what i’m talking about would be very ignorant and not really help in any way. I want a solution to the problem, as we all do. I’m just not the right person to offer it, you know?

      Potholes, on the other hand… I’m your guy!

  8. I think its a great idea! Seemingly easy to implement too. But because you’ll have to get a bunch of different gov’tal entities involved-municipality, MPW, MEWetc-I hate to think that it will be lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. But then again there might hope after all–they finally implemented a way to pay your electric bill online!

  9. […] SMS messages and pictures. This is the perfect way to structure what I talked about earlier in the crowdsourced activism […]

  10. I have now set up this map

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