ICTs at the service of territorial projects

Card's author : Outils-réseaux
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Description :
Carte ProjetTerritoire 2
The impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the territories poses some questions, summarised by the contributors to this work ICTs and territories. What are the consequences of information and communication technologies on urban life, territories and mobility? (2005):
  • does the existence of a virtual world mean the end of distances and territories?
  • to what extent can ICTs contribute to the development of territories and, eventually, to the reduction of spatial inequalities?
  • can new tools usefully accompany the process of conciliation and public debate and the construction of a network democracy?
  • how can we conciliate three ICT appropriation logics: individual, to reorganize the ways of working and a last one which is half-individual, half-public, where the challenge is using the potential of ICTs for the benefit of collective objectives?

In a nutshell: obstacles and success factors

1. Obstacles

  • Territorial projects generally have a strong political dimension to them, whether they are lead by a group or not: when tackling the notion of “territory”, the concept of “power” is never far…, a dimension that must be taken into account.
  • Be careful with poisonous people: in a local territory, creating on-line tools for public expression could become a tool for people with bad intentions, who will try to express their ideas outside the rules of democratic debate.

2. Success factors

Some key actors

  • The inhabitants of a territory! They must play an active role and this requires time!
  • Decision-makers (and potential funders of actions): without them, without their support, it is difficult to get durable projects that mobilize on a large scale.
  • Indispensable facilitators: DPS (Digital Public Spaces), to accompany the public towards new tools and uses.
  • A dense social tissue that is willing to cooperate.

A project aligned with the territory

  • A diagnosis of the territory: the features (and problems) will guide any possible projects and their objectives. For example, projects will be different between territories: large / very small, rural / urban, targeting an ageing population / a mixed uprooted population…
Beware of territorial diagnosis made by people from outside the territory when there has been no consultation with the population. It is important to have a participatory analysis (permanent observatory).
  • It shouldn't only be virtual: the project must fit into the reality of the territory: and make visible and link events that happen in the territory, initiatives…

Answers for the territory?: feedback on experiences

To get an idea of what can be done, let's explore some dimensions offered by ICTs when they are used in territorial projects to:

1. Create links between its inhabitants

In many other types of projects, strengthening the links between the inhabitants of a territory is the crosscutting goal: links between generations, social means, to fight isolation, de-compartmentalize actors and create innovation…

Tools to support organizing local events
  • neighbourhood meals
  • the day of the neighbour
  • ads

Social networks
  • La Ruche (in Rennes, and Brest): a local social network
  • Peuplade: a site linking neighbours

Local themed networks
  • Directories of actors, skills…
  • Environmental education: Coopere 34 (Hérault), APLRE

2. Inventories of resources and creating a common good

Participatory inventories

  • Territorial wikis: "A territorial wiki is a wiki that hosts a base of knowledge linked to a geographical space: a territory, municipality or region. Started up by a territorial group, an association or by volunteers, they aim to develop collaborative writing on a territory." (Wikipedia)
  • Wiki-brest
  • wiki-manche
  • Picardia
  • wiki-Toulouse
  • WikiPompignan (Languedoc-Roussillon)

  • Carto party : collectively making a map of a territory using Openstreetmap (an application that allows making a copyright-free map) and Chimere (to add a layer with the information for that territory: heritage sites, resources, points of interest… without overloading Openstreetmap):
  • Plouarzel Carto party: the first French commune to be fully charted using Open Street Map. (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Plouarzel_prepa_mapping_party)

Making public information free

Public information financed with public funds should be reusable for everyone. However, in most cases this information is protected by copyright. Making this information free would be a powerful driver of innovation to create new services, new values. There are several territories that became involved in this path, starting in England and the US:

3. Recovering the territory

Its resources, heritage, initiatives…

Territorial websites
The first devices created.

Aggregating RSS feeds
RSS feeds allow grouping, “aggregating” all news information on a territory. They give visibility to the dynamism of a territory for a very low price.

Territorial calendars
Bringing together and disseminating on several sites the news and activities in a territory using standard formats

Territorial resources databases
Balades scientifiques (by Connaissances): an inventory on the scientific heritage in the Languedoc-Roussillon region: http://baladescientifiques.fr/

Augmented reality
Potential projects?
Territoires sonores: a site aiming at bringing value to the territory of Cap de la Chèvre using sound media: http://www.territoires-sonores.net

4. Allowing participation and citizen expression

City or neighbourhood forums on the websites of local institutions or associations: there are many of these on the Internet and were one of the first tools established within the territorial projects framework.
Neighbourhood blog

Participatory TV

Participatory debates
  • Facilitating the debate on the future of the scrubland (Les Ecologistes de l'Euzière, Languedoc-Roussillon) with Freemind
  • Wiki created by the city of Clermont Ferrand for a consultation with its citizens on town development (http://www.clermont-ferrand.fr/mazet/index.php/Accueil )

Participatory multimedia creation
  • etoileur (by Kawenga in Montpellier): "e-toileur" is an accompaniment project allowing an artist or performer to find a place in a Multimedia Access Space and develop a cultural action together. (http://www.kawenga.org/centrededoc/html/e_toileur.pdf)
  • Audiomaton is a device created by the artist Cécile Guigny using an old photo-booth that has been transformed into a simple system to record sounds. At an event (Internet Festival…) the testimonials of users can be posted on-line and feed an audio library. (http://lam34.org/wakka.php?wiki=AudioMaton )

5. Making services more accessible

Taxes, job centres, administrative procedures…: increasingly, a larger number of administrations are providing (or imposing) on-line services. The basis of this baseline movement is to make these public services more accessible, even in the most remote areas. This dematerialization does eliminate some physical distances, but one must be careful not to forget the technological barrier that leaves many “digital illiterates” aside.

Relocating professional activities and creating shared working spaces in less central areas:  ZeVillage (http://www.zevillage.net/)

E-learning and ODL
Dematerialised pedagogical resources.

6. At the service of the sustainable development of territories

This is one of the big challenges our territories are facing today: how to develop without mortgaging future development?

With this idea in mind, the following has been suggested:
  • the possibility of dematerialising services and activities as a way of minimising the carbon footprint
  • the possibility of citizen participation and consultation

7. To inter-link territories (inter-cultural dimension)

ICTs and the Internet in a certain way bridge gaps and increase the possibilities of inter-linking distant territories.