Citizen Engagement for Youth—Reporting School Route Issues with Mapillary
The City of Turku in Finland has piloted a project called Good Everyday Environment (Hyvä Arkiympäristö), which aims to include citizens’ input in infrastructure planning and management. The goal is to build a safe and convenient living environment that responds to citizens’ needs. Due to its success, the project has received the Finnish Municipal Engineering Achievement award.
The city has a public feedback system for citizens to communicate requests and problems related to their home area. Not all citizens use it, and some groups are represented more than others. That is why the city government has been looking for more ways to collect feedback from people of different ages and living in different neighborhoods.
One important target group is young people, whose high level of digital literacy has prompted the city to explore different software applications for communication. As one option, Mapillary was tested together with the students of Pansio Primary School.
As part of the Good Everyday Environment project, the students of Pansio Primary School used Mapillary to capture their school routes so that the city could review them and identify potential issues and safety hazards along the way.
Mapillary partner Gispo helped host a Mapillary workshop in Pansio Primary School. They instructed the teachers on using Mapillary for the school routes project as well as other cases such as assessing the condition of bikeways in the winter.
The teachers then led the students as they captured images of their routes from home to school with action cameras. They uploaded the images to Mapillary and added comments to the routes based on discussions had in class. The routes and comments were then sent to the Municipal Property Corporation Infrastructure Services.
As a response to the reports, the Infrastructure Services fixed several issues along school routes by renewing asphalt, solving urban runoff water issues, repainting street markings, etc. The comments and proposals out of their field of work were forwarded to other entities in the city government.
The students’ feedback was made visible to the entire organization who could then act on it promptly, making sure the students see and feel the value of their work. Both teachers and students were excited about the new approach and the possibility to influence public matters in their surroundings.
“Getting started required some briefing in using Mapillary and the action cameras, and affordable high-quality training will be needed in the future. Mapillary is a good tool when working with children and youths," said Risto Anttonen from the City of Turku. The city is positive about using Mapillary again in the future for e.g. winter cycling services.