LimeWire founder Mark Gorton has recently announced to launch an application for open source urbanism, inspired by the peer-to-peer principle. Gorton’s goal is to stimulate “crowdsourced development, freely-accessible data libraries, and web forums, as well as actual open source software with which city planners can map transportation designs to people’s needs”, aiming to open up the city planning process to a wider audience and shine light on decision-making processes.
Gorton started working on open source urbanism in 1999 when he founded The Open Planning Project (TOPP). He instantly launched too ambitious to use open source software to model public transportation and traffic systems in metropolitan areas in America. Nevertheless, it seems that this plan is becoming reality — Portland (Oregon) has already used open source software called GeoServer to plan its bus routes. GeoServer is a Java-based software server for sharing and editing of spatial data.
“If you say, ‘I want to bike to the bus and then walk from there,’ Google and MapQuest have no idea what you’re talking about, (…) but it’s actually really useful information if you’re talking about a world where you’re trying to get people out of their cars.”
TOPP also funds a couple of social websites that are involved with the topic of bottom-up urbanism, like Streetsblog, which covers the ‘liveable streets movement’. The project’s next challenge is to add multi-layered complexity to its software like intelligent data on urban communities, so that the system can incorporate more factors.