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Why we are working towards open knowledge platforms

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Though India is urbanising at a furious pace, the daily grind of citizens is tiring and miserable, because cities are broken, and its problems are complex. Our cities are as large as many countries; while the most important stories that affect citizens directly are local.

Citizen Matters serves the need for an independent community newsmedia for Bangalore city and its suburbs. Over the years we have published over 7000 articles relevant to Bengaluru citizens, from investigative reports to explainers, by both professional and citizen journalists, winning quite a few awards along the way.

While we started with a clear local focus in 2008, over the years many of our stories have found resonance at a national level, and we are now starting to explore topics that are relevant across cities. Whether it is a news story on the fate of city wetlands, exorbitant school fee hikes or options for e-wallets, readers are those living in India’s mega, metro and large cities (with population 1+ million).

Over the last few years, we have been seeing interest from other cities in having their own chapters. Chennai got off the ground in 2016, and we are using the experience to understand the process of facilitating independent city chapters.

So this is what we are working towards — a nationally relevant urban newsmedia with insightful reporting on critical issues, ideas and solutions for cities. Our work will have direct connects to city residents through local chapters, using citizen journalism, radio, and social media channels, exploring issues like water, waste, transport, governance and urban poverty.

World over, urban issues are getting focused attention through foundations like Rockefeller (100 Resilient Cities), Bloomberg’s C40 initiative, CIFF, Google, Knight etc., many of whom are also supporting urban media like Guardian Cities, City Lab, Citi Scope etc.

Our model has catalysed change by involving citizens as ‘proactive problem solvers’ instead of mere bystanders as cities evolve. In Bangalore, we have seen empowered citizens become a force for positive change, and working towards sustainable long-term self governance systems.

This is what we expect to achieve in every city – by scaling this impact nation-wide with the power of open knowledge platforms (journalism+information+community engagement) that allow citizens to learn, engage, collaborate and build better cities.