OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

New Bridges, New Urban Challenges

Connecting cities, facilitating learning, sharing what works on challenges facing the world's cities, especially those around SDGs.

Photo of Curtis Johnson
1 0

Written by

What's attached is a general description of Citiscope's global on line news service; and a preliminary statement of interest in funding support from GHR. Interestingly, while a global operation, we are headquartered in Minneapolis and so are, in some sense, a local 501 c3.  But our team and our writers are located all over the world.

Explain your idea

The problem: the fate of the world increasingly lies in what cities are able to do, and what their nations allow them and finance them to do, to respond to the challenges embodied in the SDGs, and what's called the New Urban Agenda, along with the Paris climate agreements. Cities are the key. Citiscope aims to push information around, facilitating sharing among those in a position to shape cities, with the hope that urban leaders will learn from what worked -- and didn't work. Our short set of slides shows that we have a global audience, not huge but critically important to making progress. We are constantly growing but need more financial assistance to cover how cities are responding. Our network of journalists from all over the world are a diverse bunch in every way. In fact, while it may not have been our original aim, we are developing an outstanding corps of writers who live or work in the regions that are writing about, giving our coverage a cultural authenticity that is rare in this Internet age. We can, if this review proceeds further, provide evidence of how our coverage is used to influence urban decisions. We have more Google Analytics to share if you wish and we are working with Google in their Google Ads grant program to grow our subscriber base further. Meantime, though, we want to make our coverage even more robust.

Who Benefits?

People in a position to influence what cities do. This includes business and civic leaders, organized community groups, as well as those elected or appointed to do the work of cities. We are trying to shrink the planet, making it easier and faster for cities to learn from each other. Though we should, we have so far not undertaken any effort to collect testimonials. We do have results of a recent reader survey, which we could share with your team.

How is your idea unique?

One of our original funders, the Rockefeller Foundation, was so taken with the idea, that they began their own coverage, Zilient. We do have competitors, but mostly partners. Several media outlets such as City Lab, an offshoot of the Atlantic, regularly republish our articles. And we are in ongoing talks with Bloomberg Philanthropies about becoming a media partner, though they too have an internal news service called Spark. But most would agree that Citiscope defined its space and is the preeminent journalistic organization using independent journalism to tell the critical urban stories.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

Citiscope is a 501 c3 non profit organization headed by a team of people experienced in urban journalism, such as Neal Peirce, a long time Washington Post columnist and Chris Swope, former managing editor of Governing magazine. We have a diverse and experienced group of regular writers and freelancers around the globe who bring a rich reservoir of experience with the places they are writing about. I, Curtis Johnson, have been writing with Neal Peirce for decades, but I am also known in the Twin Cities for having worked for former Gov. Arne Carlson and being chair of the Metro Council for four years.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of eldy wullur

Hello, Curtis,
This idea is the basic idea of all of our goals, to win the world through the writings to give an accurate understanding of what is happening elsewhere in the world, what, who and how they are. This idea would then be to change the mindset, that stand by and do nothing is wrong. Thanks to you.