Digital urban commons

The term “urban commons” refers to collectively shared resources related to the urban environment, such as streets, public parks, and shared neighborhood amenities (Foster, 2011). It also can include intangible urban goods, such as the sense of security or belonging (Parker & Johansson, 2011). Issues associated with the management of these types of resources, especially the tangible ones, have laid at the heart of urban governance. So far, solutions have mainly favored either public government provided regulations or the transfer of the resources and their management to the private sector. Lately however, there has been an increased interest in exploring and reflecting upon other types of solutions, which emphasize the collective management of the urban commons (Foster, 2011; Parker & Johansson, 2012) through novel co-governance strategies (Pestoff, 2012) and the identification of possibilities for collaboration between citizen-based self-organized endeavours and the public authorities (Horelli et al., 2013).

As with all aspects of social, cultural, and economic life, the digital dimension of the commons is also apparent when dealing with the urban commons. Information, media, and data about the urban environment is ever increasingly produced by officials as well as citizens. The growing discussion and actions associated with opening up official data has meant that little by little a body of open public urban data is shaping up (Rittenbruch et al., 2012). Furthermore, the amount of citizen generated digital media and data related to the urban environment is growing and can no longer be ignored as valuable resource in urban planning and governance (Saad-Sulonen, 2012). One of the challenges that remain is coming up with mechanisms of exchange, both technical, but most importantly as practices, which support the sharing of these resources across social worlds, as well as their common use. Thus, the collaborative management of urban commons needs also to address the digital dimension and the role of digital urban commons.

We have planned to include the theme of the urban commons in the seminar program, were we will have a parallel session to discuss this. I’d very much like to open up the topic so that we also address the role of the digital urban commons.

Here the complete program of the seminar (7.11.2013),  and the registration form to the Urban Commons session.

Foster, S. (2012). Collective Action and the Urban Commons (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 1791767). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from

Horelli, L., Saad-Sulonen, J., Wallin, s. and Botero, A. (May 2013). When self-organization and urban governance intersect: Two cases from Helsinki. Paper presented at the Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance conference, Delft, The Netherlands. Retrieved from

Parker, P., & Johansson, M. (2012). Challenges and potentials in collaborative management of urban commons. In Multi-faceted nature of collaboration in the contemporary world (pp. 92–113). Vega Press, Ltd. Retrieved from

Parker, P. ; Johansson, M. (June 2011). The uses and abuses of Elinor Ostrom’s concept of commons in urban theorizing. Paper presented at the International Conference of the EUropean Urban Research Association (EURA) 2011 – Cities without Limits. Retrieved from

Pestoff, V. (2012). Innovations in public services: Co-production and new public governance in Europe. In A. Botero, A G. Paterson, Saad-Sulonen, J. (Eds), Towards Peer Production in Public Services: Cases From Finland. Aalto University Publication Series Crossover 15/2012, (pp.13–33). Helsinki: Aalto University. Retrieved from

Rittenbruch, M., Foth, M., Robinson, R., & Filonik, Dl. (2012). Program your city : designing an urban integrated open data API. In Hyvönen, Helena & Salmi, Eija (Eds.) Proceedings of Cumulus Helsinki 2012 Conference: Open Helsinki – Embedding Design in Life, Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, Aalto University, Helsinki, pp. 24-28. Retrieved from

Saad-Sulonen, J. (2012). The role of digital media content creation and sharing in participatory e-planning. International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR). 1(2), 1-22.

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