GUSSE: Urban Sustainability Meets Social Networking

While the World Urban Forum 3 in Vancouver will end on Friday, organizers hope that the conversations started this week will continue long beyond the live meeting. To facilitate these discussions, a team of techies and visionaries from the University of British Columbia have created GUSSE, an open-source platform for exchanging sustainability solutions. Using a "social networking" model, GUSSE's developers hope to create a valuable resource that's as easy to navigate as MySpace:

Imagine you’re a city manager in Kigali, Kowloon or Kamloops faced with a water quality crisis or waste policy issue. How can you quickly scope the latest ideas and proven solutions? Consultants are expensive. Google isn’t the answer. Academic databases are impenetrable. The sustainability noise is deafening – where can you find a signal?

Now imagine an Amazon-like online destination where the ‘products’ are sustainability solutions and the conversations of countless consumers, like you, continuously identify the best solutions – all of which are free!

The world has never had an opportunity to share and build the sustainability knowledge already within our cities. GUSSE is an innovative online website that brings together the most current, valuable and trusted solutions for urban sustainability, then refines and applies them within a ‘social networking’ framework that harnesses collective wisdom on a global scale.

GUSSE's users will have a full range of applications available to them: "blogging, social search and social bookmarking, federated search (search across multiple content repositories), discussion forums and a light content management system." It makes use of a peer-to-peer networking model, and cities around the world can host their own versions that will share resources with other network members. The developers chose open-source software and models so cities won't have to pay licensing fees, and programmers around the world can experiment with creating more advanced functions. Also in this spirit, GUSSE will promote use of the Creative Commons license for content shared on the network. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the conversations, and the multicultural range of participants, GUSSE developers are implementing semantic web technologies similar to those used for Japan's EKOSS project.

A small-scale version of the system is available for testing, and users can search, blog and tag on the current Vancouver-specific model. Urban professionals are invited to take it for a spin, and contribute to a global repository of sustainable solutions for all of our cities. :: GUSSE via The Eco-Street Blog

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