what is ambient accountability?
big words for a simple idea: how to systematically use the built environment and physical space to help people right at the place and time when they need it most to:
- understand their rights and entitlements (the what is supposed to happen)
- monitor the performance of public officials and service providers (the what is actually happening)
- figure out who is responsible and offer easy ways to take action if things go wrong and 1) does not match up with 2)
Ambient accountability is a very elastic concept. It ranges from the very simple (stickers, placards, billboards) to the artistic nifty (murals, projections) and the very futuristic (urban screens, augmented reality). It can include the official advisory, the NGO poster, as well as the bottom-up urban intervention.
Ambient accountability provides a nimble yet promising fresh perspective to think about accountability in spatial terms right when and where it can be pursued and needs to be demanded. It seeks to connect the creativity and expertise of architects, designers, technology activists and urban interventionists with the deep knowledge about corruption and the strong resolve to fight it of the transparency and anti-corruption community. Such a conversation has so far not really been attempted and provides a great potential to incubate new ideas and forge new coalitions for tackling corruption.
For more see blog entries with a quick overview, and the historical backdrop and this working paper with lots of visual examples and a more in-depth account of why ambient accountability has a lot of potential to complement the existing anti-corruption repertoire and at the same time offer a interesting area of application for all those urban computing or open government initiatives.