Macrowikinomics discusses a large number of institutions that are both failing and being renewed on a networked model. But there are additional sectors of society in urgent need of Wikinomics treatment, and three of the most important are the City, Water and Food.
The world’s cities are under stress with megacities such as Sao Paulo and Johannesburg paralyzed by population influx, lack of infrastructure, traffic congestion, pollution and crime. In the United States and elsewhere, many cities built up since the Second World War are dysfunctional and getting worse as the industrial economy collapses. Detroit has lost more than half its population, with large swaths of the city now wasteland, populated by wild animals. Yet everywhere there are bold new collaborative initiatives for reinvention of cities, which we’ll be discussing.
Water is a crisis. According to the OECD, 2.8 billion people, or 41 percent of the world’s population, already live in high water stress areas. This will soar to 3.9 billion by 2030. In the Wikinomics spirit, the Global Water Challenge and Ashoka Changemakers have created an online competition to bring together experts and entrepreneurs to innovate ways to solve the water access and sanitation crisis. The US-based design firm IDEO is partnering with Acumen Fund and The Gates Foundation to re-design water distribution and sanitation in India and Africa. Called the “human centered” design process, it engages the public in the process of designing solutions. One innovation, the Aquaduct Concept Bicycle, transports and sanitizes water at the same time through a pedal powered filtration system.
Droughts and floods threaten our food supplies. One billion people in the world are starving while another billion are obese. Our methods of mass food production are making people and the environment sick. Half of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. Yet everywhere multi-stakeholder networks are mobilizing. Our first guest post on the Food sector is by Moritz Kettler and titled The Food Trade Off. It looks at online communities like Hyperlocavore and Landshare that have popped up in the US and UK. Moritz is a marketing strategist based out of Geneva. He has worked a research consultant at Toronto think tank New Paradigm (now nGenera) and was a contributor to Wikinomics and Grown Up Digital.