The theme and context

Across the world, everything is changing – the way we live, traditional roles in society, and the way we connect to one another. Recognising this, governments and policy makers are starting to design services with, and not for, people. Increasingly, ordinary citizens are beginning to see themselves as active agents in shaping their own lives. This global shift is reflected in the rise of the sharing economy and the new ways citizens are accessing and using big and open data. Instead of a world in which things move top down or bottom up, they now move sideways, from peer to peer.

Why Mumbai?

As well as being the entertainment, financial and commercial capital of India, Mumbai is increasingly recognised as a hotbed of some of the most exciting urban innovations. With an exploding population, these innovations build on the civic consciousness and social infrastructures of Mumbai’s dense and dynamic neighbourhoods.

Mumbai is a city of colour and contrast. High tech and low tech seem to work in harmony, while the juxtaposition, of old and new, informal and formal, poverty and wealth, temporary and permanent makes the city a source of inspiration. This is a city where systems and chaos function simultaneously.

Technology is a key enabler in these developments. It is reconfiguring relationships between businesses and consumers, as well as between politicians and citizens. It is also catalysing peer-to-peer connections, and transforming grassroots movements. Consequently, many of our old assumptions must be actively forgotten as technology enables citizens to reshape their cities.

The event

We partnered with ISDI (host) and Okapi. Over the two and a half days, we explored how India’s emerging civic consciousness is impacting on new thinking on cities, citizens and the networks they weave together with their governments and institutions. Through a series of site visits, case studies, workshops, meals and talks, we discussed:

  • How can and should we be adapting to the possibilities that new technological and digital solutions enable?
  • How can new ways of connecting make cities better for all?

From the tranquillity of rooftop urban farm havens, to the trendy new maker spaces in the industrial districts, and the entrepreneurial small businesses in informal settlements, every SIX participant was captivated by the energy, speed and complexity of the world’s densest city.

Who was there?

The Summer School participants came from more than 20 different countries across six continents and from a range of sectors including foundations, designers, practitioners and academics. This diversity not only resulted in meaningful debates, but also resonated beautifully with the spirit and characteristics of the city-surroundings.

Reflection blogs

Seven reasons for having faith in India’s social innovation future – Eddy Adams

An innovative fix – lessons from SIX Summer School Mumbai – Liz Moreton