Tarragona is an ancient town on the Mediterranean coast with a 2500 years of history. When Roman General Scipio went on a mission to punish the Carthaginians in the year 211 BC, he used it as a winter camp. Tarraco as the Romans called it, became one the leading cities of the Empire.
Inspired by its past, Tarragona has developed an innovative Smart City approach. It uses digital technology to make its city more social and inclusive. Mediterranean cities are traditionally open, social and inclusive with citizens who socialize on the street and help each other when in need. So how can a digital network be of help?
In 2015, a first local mentoring project started. It is called Rossinyol and the organization is called Quilometre0. Rossinyol is about mentoring and social inclusion. During a year, university students act as mentors of kids in risk of social exclusion. They do fun things together, at least once a week. Before using M+, the Rossinyol organization required mentors to create a blog. This didn´ t work as it represented too much work for participants. M+ changed all that by allowing to post feedback instantly on contextual (project) “cards”, directly from their smartphones. The posts of all mentors appeared in the newsfeed of the Rossinyol newsroom. We were amazed by the results: the newsroom had more than 4000 visits within a few months. Not only the volunteers themselves and the kids but also project staff, teachers and family were following the newsroom. It created a bond between them. Next we knew is that they wanted to keep last year´ s newsroom as a memory. So we created the “hibernated” newsroom. True, a newsroom develops into the living memory of a great civic initiative and the contributions of its participants. Now you can keep it, forever.
Armand Bogaarts is President of the Civic Media Foundation (CMF-www.civicfound.org). CMF´s mission is to foster communities by helping mentoring programs grow with technology. For information about the M+ : www.messagenes.com.