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All big cities face large-scale crises: ecological catastrophes (oil spills, toxic leaks, etc.), violent incidents (attacks, violent social movements, etc.), natural disasters (earthquakes, etc.), or serious climate-related disturbances (floods, ice storms, droughts, etc.).
These crises require a rapid response and the coordinated efforts of public safety officials, public and private institutions, and citizens in order to ensure the community’s security and well-being.
The Ville de Montréal is challenging start-ups to answer the following question:
How could your solution or approach have helped—or how might it help—big cities deal with these types of major crisis situations? Ideally, your solution would address all four of the issues listed below, but this is not a requirement.
Here are four types of needs we have identified:
1. How can we pick up relevant signals and information?
In a crisis situation, information comes at us from all sides. Often fragmented, it comes from employees, citizens, and various public institutions, using different means of dissemination and various types of data.
How do we organize this data? How do we pick up on open and emerging “crowdsourced” data from citizens (from social networks, mobile apps, etc.), from partners, and from other stakeholders? How do we cross-reference it with information that is already available? How can we help the city process this data from disparate sources?
2. How do we aggregate, interpret, and share this data so as to make the best possible decisions?
Decision-making in times of emergency is a difficult exercise. When faced with a crisis, those in charge of cities must often decide on taking action without having a complete picture of the situation, taking steps as the circumstances evolve, and combining information of different types and from different sources. How do we monitor all of the data and make sense of it in an effort to help with decision-making?
How do we help those in charge with their decision-making process? How do we facilitate the understanding of various scenarios and their impacts? How do we facilitate the sharing of information and communication/coordination between stakeholders? How do we predict which actions will have the most positive impact?
3. How do we improve communication with citizens?
In a crisis situation, it is essential to get the right information to the right people at the right time. Citizens must also be quickly informed of the progress of operations and of public safety issues.
How do we effectively convey this information to citizens and keep them informed of how the situation is evolving? How do we quickly alert citizens? How do we reach those who don’t use digital technology? How do we remain efficient even in situations where technological communications tools have failed?
4. How do we mobilize citizens to take responsibility and deal with the situation?
Cities must be able to rely on the help of their citizens, who can play an active role with their fellow citizens.
How do we make it easier to mobilize citizens during a crisis in the city? How do we encourage their self-reliance and their ability to help their community and the city meet the challenges arising from the crisis situation?
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