How do you Make an Intelligent City? The 24 Hour City Project

How do you Make an Intelligent City? The 24 Hour City Project


24 Hour City ProjectThrough technology we have created new ways to collect, show, and share data. Beyond that dry term, “data”, is a vast range of possibility, and gamification is demonstrating how we can show and share information in the hopes of becoming more fit, more healthy, and more knowledgable. These are largely personal goals made social through technology, but what of inherently social goals? How can we use these new technologies to create better services, better communities, and better cities? Earlier this year, iStrategyLabs, the National Buildings Museum, IBMs Smarter City Program, and Time Magazine came together to ask “What makes an intelligent city?” Bonnie Shaw, Director of Social Innovation at iStrategyLabs, shared the beginnings of a project that tries to answer this question–the 24 Hour City Project.

Intelligent Cities

The group came together to discuss the use of technology in the environment and for the future of our cities, but they did not stop at discussion. “There was a real passion and commitment from the group to not just sit around and talk about it but to actually do something about it,” Bonnie told us. The result was a pilot for the 24 Hour City Project that took place in June. The pilot  was designed and rolled out in under two months and provided an opportunity to test out the premise with lower the risk for experimentation. A competition highlighted the best ideas. Teams were invited to come together to “hack the city”, and create installations of their work at the National Buildings Museum in Washington, DC.

The resulting installations demonstrated how technology is already influencing how people interact with cities and gave a window in how that will continue to shape our lives. Keep in mind that teams only had 24 Hours to get their work on display, but the winning project (video below) did a great job and was able to visualize city data and underline many challenges that education is facing in Washington, DC.

Check out the other top entries here and here.

So far project teams have been selected to compete, but the next version of the project will coincide with DCWEEK and there is a public call for submissions with a pool of $10,000 in grants available. You can find out more and submit entries on their site.

You may be asking what this has to do with games, and the answer is: a lot. The call for entries is similar to the model pioneered by the Federal Government at, in that it creates a competitive, “game-like” framework that highlights the best ideas and gives them a platform to grow on.

Beyond the competitive aspect, online games were some of the first projects to begin to answer the question of how to organize large numbers of individuals in the digital age. The interactive installations are exploring ways to apply those lessons to the platform of the city. Other examples, such as the BMWGuggenheim Lab, Commons and Macon Money show how you can take the collection and display of city information and incorporate game mechanics to increase engagement. Lastly, one of the single most powerful aspects of games as a learning platform is that they allow players to fail, reload and try again.

The largest accomplishment of the 24 Hour City Project is that it provides a safe space to experiment, learn from mistakes, and catalyze innovation. Bonnie concludes, “If you don’t actually get your hands dirty, and if you just sit back and talk about things at high levels, you never know what the little tiny things are that are going to trip you up… You have to get out and try it.”

Gamification Co will be hosting it’s second Gamification Summit in New York on September 15-16. Join keynotes from Gilt Groupe CEO Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and 42 Entertainment’s founder, Susan Bondsto learn how the new science of engagement is rewriting the rules of product design. We are also offering the first ever Certificate in Gamification. For Gamification Blog readers, use discount code GCOBLOG for 25% off at We look forward to seeing you there!


Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.


  1. It seems crazy to me that people are actually making money doing this. I wish I could do that, am I right?!My recent post Woodshops