Hi #SmartCommunity friends, in this episode of the Smart Community podcast I have a wonderful chat with Boopsie Maran. Boopsie is the founder and director of urban strategy at Places for Good, a collaborative of community advocates, planners, landscape architects, and artists, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Boopsie and I discuss her background and passion for walkability and ensuring the safety of kids independently travelling to school. We discuss what a Smart Community means to Boopsie and why the organisation is called Places for Good.
We talk about how to ask the right questions to collect the necessary data to make better decisions and the difficulties with measuring and communicating liveability and walkability benefits, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Boopsie tells us about the project she’s working on now involving walkability infrastructure improvement for a stretch of land near a school in Auckland, and the problems with short-term political cycles in local governments when it comes to liveability projects.
We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of using apps to feed community input back to local governments, and where to next when it comes to the efficiency of feeding data back to the people that make decisions in Smart Cities and Communities.
As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Boopsie’s background in open space projects and her passion for ensuring the safety of kids independently travelling to school
- Why she’s passionate about walkability
- What a Smart Community means to Boopsie
- About her organisation, Places for Good
- The power of data to tell stories
- How to ask the right questions to collect the necessary data to make decisions
- The importance of co-designing with the community
- The difficulties with measuring and communication liveability and walkability projects, both qualitatively and quantitatively
- The walkability infrastructure improvement project Boopsie is working on now
- The problem with short-term political cycles in local governments when it comes to liveability projects
- An idea to induct newly elected members of local government with data storytelling to effectively and efficiently get them up to speed
- The emerging trends of using apps to feed community input back to local governments
- Where to next for the efficiency of feeding data back to the people that make decisions in Smart Cities and Communities
“I want to bring back understanding of what the travel of a child is like today. And I think more and more people don’t realise how dangerous it is because they haven’t done it in so long. So, they’re not seeing it from the kid perspective.”
‘But in 2023, there’s so much data, how are we sharing it to each other and how we share it to newly elected members. So let’s say you were elected to be mayor this year. How are you going to digest the data, the Smart City information, in time to make decisions for your city tomorrow?”
“We got really good at collecting the information. So the last eight years, we’ve been learning how to get pedestrian counts, look at incomes, I’m learning how to use crash data. How are we synthesising that and putting it through like a sieve or a filter that gives it to the people that are making the policy decisions fast and efficiently?”
“Because what’s the benefit of measuring someone walking? It’s just what everyone does. So it’s really hard when you’re trying to bring it back into a society that’s been overwhelmed by the private car that we forgot that we should have been measuring it all along.”
“Are cities always going to be for the people that need to pass fast and easily through it? Or can it also be a little bit more balanced so that the people living in the places are totally welcoming and hospitable to the people moving the way they are choosing to? We’re on a fringe suburb, so we have the capacity to not get in the car, and walk the 40 minutes and enjoy it.”
“The surrounding zone of a school is not the school’s responsibility as much as the mayor, the elected member, the parents, and I think that’s an emerging trend that needs to be taken seriously. How the kids get to and from school [safely] and the data should be trustworthy, honest, and not an additional job for a teacher.”
“It’s hard to tell people’s incentives. Whereas it’s easy for me, because all I do is want my kid not to die while they’re walking to school, it’s pretty much all I can honestly say is my focus right now, to get these intersections safe for children to cross.”
“We will always need to be better at condensing [data], digesting it and spitting it back out so people understand it. So I think the future of Smart Cities right now will be translating the data that exists and finding what data is missing. And giving it to the people in time that they can make a decision.”
Inhabit Place App https://www.inhabitplace.info
Episode 242 Measuring the Good things in Smart Communities, with Lior Steinberg https://mysmart.community/2021/07/26/scp-e242/
Safe Swim App https://www.safeswim.org.nz
Christchurch’s Snap Send Solve app https://www.snapsendsolve.com
Urban Playground: How Child-Friendly Planning and Design Can Save Cities by Tim Gill
Connect with Boopsie on LinkedIn
Connect with Places for good via their website www.placesforgood.com or @placesforgood on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter
Connect with me via email: email@example.com
The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.