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8 great ideas for cities: The City 2.0 award-winners in video

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Future-CityAs the world’s population expands toward 10 billion people within the next 50 years, urban citizens face an unprecedented opportunity to build more vibrant, just and inclusive urban centers. Because we know that cities are powered by people, and people enable change, TED responded to the rapidly changing urban landscape by granting the 2012 TED Prize to an idea: the City 2.0.

Last month, TED launched our redesigned City 2.0 website, a storytelling platform for city dwellers to share stories, videos and innovations related to urban transformation. Citizen-powered and story-driven, the City 2.0 site highlights what motivates people to take action and work together to shape the cities of our future.

The City 2.0 site also features remarkable stories from the 10 City 2.0 award winners, who are improving their cities by turning world-changing ideas into sustainable solutions and collaborative action. From Kampala to Melbourne, City 2.0 grantees are investing their energy, passion and resources towards making a difference in areas like education, safety, health, food and public space.

Watch these eight videos, released this week at TED2013 and TEDActive 2013, featuring remarkable City 2.0 award-winners from across the globe and learn how ordinary citizens are sparking extraordinary change:

Crowdsourcing the Quiet
As city populations expand, it becomes difficult for denizens to find places to retreat and relax in silence. Jason Sweeney and his team are working to “crowdsource the quiet” through their Stereopublic project, using web and smartphone-based technology to help people geo-locate quiet spaces in urban environments.

Designing Chicago
Designing Chicago leverages public participation and design to make citywide navigation better. The ultimate goal is that the app will take transit planning to the next level, incorporating functionality that people can use in a responsive, holistic way. Need to pick up a cup of coffee on the way to a meeting? Work that into your transit plan. Forgot the bus might be crowded because of the baseball game? The app will remind you of that, too. Need to plan elevator and escalator routes because you’re stuck with a big stroller? No problem.

Emily May and Hollaback! are putting technology to work in the movement to end street harassment. Street harassment may be considered a social and cultural norm, but May is using crowd-source technology and social media to change the way we think about this insidious form of gender-based violence. Emily May wants you to Hollaback!

Lost in Lahore
A trio of impassioned mapmakers and technologists — Asim Fayaz, Omer Sheikh and Khurram Siddiqi — are going to use the $10,000 from their City 2.0 Award to become superheroes for people who are desperate and lost in Lahore. They are taking Allama Iqbal Town, one of the most densely populated localities in Lahore, and using it as a demonstration, of sorts. The signs they erect will follow international standards and have road names in Urdu and English. In addition to installing the new signage, they will also engage a team of paid experts and passionate volunteers to maintain the signs for a trial period of three months, documenting the time and effort required.

Mapping Sanitation
Faisal Chohan, a Senior TED Fellow and TEDxIslamabad organizer, will continue his mapping work with a related mission: Improving sanitation in order to prevent the spread of cholera, a bacterial infection in the small intestine, primarily caused by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. The rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that results from cholera can lead to death if left untreated.

Recycled Amusement
An artist and community organizer, Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire had an imaginative idea for how to engage and empower the children of his home country: play. Tusingwire became the first 2012 City 2.0 Award recipient at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, where he pitched his plan to turn thousands of plastic water bottles into an amusement park where kids growing up in the slums can play and learn.

Re-imagining the Commons
Recognizing the irreplaceable power of the local gathering space, Next American City, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit directed by Diana Lind, is living its mission by turning its headquarters into a vibrant local learning laboratory, art gallery and hot spot for boundary-crossing conversation.

WikiHouse, a House and Home for the 99%
Inspired by a desire to “create something that would allow the 99% to make cities for the 99%,” designers Alastair Parvin and Nick Ierodiaconou aimed to explore practical applications of their philosophical commitment to a more democratized design movement. They created a blueprint allowing everyday people to build their own homes using open-sourced designs and locally sourced materials. Since the project’s inception, five prototypes have been assembled.

Inspired by the City 2.0 award winners’ stories? Share your stories and inspirations on and download The Atlantic Cities and TED Books’ original ebook, City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There.