web 2-0

Negotiation 2.0

Kelly Crew wordpress Negotiation can either be distributive or integrative. In distributive negotiation, parties are seen as adversaries and outcomes result in one clear winner and one clear loser. Integrative negotiation is a different approach; parties are seen as collaborative problem solvers who rely on mutual interests to move forward and set agreements. Outcomes with integrative negotiation are win-win: both parties walk away with something they wouldn’t have achieved on their own without negotiating.

The whole idea of integrative negotiation was pioneered by a group at Harvard University in the late 1970s/early 1980s and documented in their “negotiation bible,” Getting to Yes. But even with the concepts’ 30-year history, it seems many negotiations are still hard-fought battles using dirty tricks or force. In some cases, a lack of focus on the interests at stake, rather than parties’ established positions, causes simple disputes to be brought all the way to court just to find a resolution – a costly process that is inefficient for all.

Could web 2.0 technologies be used to foster more integrative negotiation? A quick search on “negotiation 2.0” reveals that some work has already been done on this topic, but the field is still open. The University-Industry Demonstration Project created TurboNegotiator, a software tool to enhance university-industry negotiation. It quickly identifies common interests and areas that need compromise. This virtual 3rd party can facilitate a quick and efficient process.

Chapter 8 of the recent book Negotiating the Business Environment brings negotiation into the Twitter age. The book as a whole is focused on the specific business bureaucracies, markets, and networks that affect negotiations. Chapter 8 focuses in on social networks; what are the ways in which they can be used to overcome the resource scarcity, time scarcity, geographical separation, and the inability to maintain an ongoing dialog barriers to negotiation?

These technologies have a lot of potential to facilitate productive conversations between Towns, constituents, and land developers as well. This is an area we hope to see explored more in the future; tools like Mind Mixer and Engaging Plans may also be well on the way.

-          Terra Curtis

Code for America

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkceyKlYrJo&w=440&h=278] I was surprised when I realized I hadn’t yet blogged about Code for America.  I mentioned it in a post last week about the future of technology and planning, and then came across it again reading Arc User: The Magazine for ESRI Software Users. For those unfamiliar, ESRI is the company that produces the most widely-used GIS software – ArcMAP.  Turns out they’re also advising the Code for America program.

So, what is Code for America (CfA)?  They’re a new non-profit that teams with cities, figures out a challenge the city is facing that could be solved most cost-effectively with a tech/web 2.0 solution, and recruits technologist fellows to spend about 10 months working out the solutions.  The result is that cities get their problems solved cheaper (and faster) than doing it on their own and the technologists get to do good while doing what they love.

This round, CfA has partnered with Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.  The intent is that they’ll solve each city’s challenge in an open and transferable way, creating solutions that apply to any municipality in the US.  Boston has challenged the fellows to improve high school education through an engaging web platform; Seattle is looking for a mechanism to enable more fluid collaboration between and among communities and public safety officials; Washington DC is expanding upon its own Apps for Democracy project, creating a manual to assist other governments in their open data programs; and, Philadelphia has asked for a solution to allow citizen collaboration on neighborhood services.

CfA is currently in full swing, with all fellows working together out of San Francisco.  We should expect the first round of solutions in September with a hand-off to cities in October and November.  In the meantime, they’re already recruiting for the next team of technologist.  Act fast because the early deadline has already passed!

-Terra Curtis



In November 2009, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) unveiled a new app for the iPhone and Android systems called Cycletracks. The app’s release signals a great step forward in municipal data collection and analysis by using mobile technology for social benefit.  By downloading and using the app, San Francisco’s cyclists can record and report their bicycle trips throughout the City.  Along with trip length and duration in time, the user can also report the purpose of the trip: social, exercise, work-related, shopping, errand, etc.

It’s useful enough on an individual basis (ever wanted to know just how far you bike around town?).  But perhaps more importantly, all this data gets aggregated anonymously and sent back to the SFCTA who uses it to inform its sophisticated SF-CHAMP modeling a travel forecasting tool.  SF-CHAMP is used by City planners to determine the effects of land use, development, and other local decisions on travel behavior.

Word is that the app can actually be used anywhere.  Portland, OR has already been in touch with the developers to try to tailor it to their needs.  Might your city be interested?

Interactive Planning in Cary, North Carolina

The town of Cary, North Carolina (population 94,536) has launched a new web tool called “VIP”, for Virtual Interactive Planner.  The town’s development process had become overbearingly complex, and town government was forced to field questions from citizens and developers alike.  According to Dan Matthys, Communications and Information Planner in Cary, “it wasn’t clear to our citizens when they had a chance to speak and when they didn’t have a chance, how long the process was or what the different steps are to that process.” So, the mayor of Cary asked the Planning Department to come up with a solution.  The VIP tool takes you through a “development adventure” where potential developers (or involved citizens) can enter a property address and view local zoning and land use approvals and select a project type (commercial, industrial, public/institutional, or residential).  The tool then takes you to a flash-based interactive image of the property and informs you of the steps you’ll need to take to get your development project approved.

Overall, the tool seemed a bit heavy-weight for my taste; however, it seems to have succeeded in making clear the development process.  “It’s … increased the efficiency in our department because it has reduced the number of phone calls we’re getting that could be answered by something on the computer.”  Other cities trying to implement their model should note that 97% of Cary residents have computers and internet access and overall the population is very educated with three major universities nearby.