Large organizations - governments, financial companies, transit systems, utilities - are deploying lots of new information infrastructures to support smart city applications. But all too often, they have a limited imagination to what these systems should be used for, and try to exercise too much control over access to their data.
On the other hand, the web and open mobile platforms are creating a rich ecosystem of bottom-up apps that do things people actually want to do, and are building user bases and functionality organically, all the while delicately stitching themselves into the existing social and spatial fabric of cities.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the way these two parallel technology tracks can be connected together than FourTap, an elegant integration of a top-down system for transit payments (London’s Oyster RFID Card) and a bottom-up system for mobile social networking (Foursquare - and here’s a recent NY Times article explaining the service). Watch the video below, it doesn’t take long to get the point.
Expose data from top-down platforms to enable innovation
Amplify the scale and impact of bottom up services by leveraging open, centralized megainfrastructures