Archived entries for Software

»Handshake« – Solve It Together

What is Handshake?

»Handshake« is a map-based community platform, designed to empower people to collaboratively find solutions for locatable problems. The software invites users to start talking about the problems in their living environment. It assists them by suggesting solutions and helps to promote their favoured ideas.

The software follows a simple idea: the main similarity in any local community is the problems the people share on-site. It turns out that most relevant are the problems that can’t be solved by single people solitary. In this case public discussions are needed in order to find solutions that are supported by a majority. The platform supports this process. The number of people that are directly affected by a problem can thereby be detected more easily.

How does it work?

  1. Locate a problem, give it a name, describe it
  2. Create attention and discuss the problem with other users.
  3. Suggest a solution and find supporters.
  4. Solve it together on-site or get in contact with responsible public authorities.

What is a »Handshake« problem ?
The term »problem« serves as a blankspace and can be substituted by any other context that varies the basic principles of the application. So any kind of problem-related subject can become the labelling topic of a handshake driven project.

Who should use Handshake?
Handshake is made for the citizens as well as for (city-) administrations, local organizations and clubs that want to get familiar with the problems the people feel concerned about. The dialogue-oriented tool allows the operators to learn about the favoured solutions by the community and to get in contact with the active stakeholders. Handshake offers extensive moderation and content management features to ensure the quality of content and to take responsibility for handling inappropriate content.

What does the idea originate from?

The software is built on the lessons learned and the experiences made from the implementation of forerunner Unortkataster in Cologne. The various user-feedback and the experiences made in the course of the public-implementation of the software inspired the designers to develop this follow-up software.

Basic features

  • register and mark locations on a google-map
  • add descriptions and media files
  • add a suggestions for solving the problem
  • find other users to support your suggestion
  • get in contact with other users
  • bookmark locations on profile pages
  • moderate and supervise content

Handshake is…


Here you find a whitepaper for download (german version) with all uppon descripted functions.

The software will be distributed under a creative-commons license – for a demo account please contact the team of to get support for a Handshake-project in your city!

Unortkataster Köln


Main intention for the design of »Unortkataster« was to start a citizen driven inventory of urban deficits in the city of Cologne. Unortkataster invites the users to locate the places they dislike, it enables  to documentate the location with own media files and opens all contributions for a public dispute and evaluation. The software initiates a public participation process grounded on a community-map and joins theme specific controversies about the quality of urban locations.

The web-application was sketched and designed in a user centred approach: volunteers from citizen-group “Leitbild Köln 2020” shared their requirements and objectives in all phases of the project with the research team at Academy of Media Arts and actively participated in feedback sessions, testing and the introduction of the software to the public.

The public start was accomplished during a life event in context of architecture festival »Plan08« in September 2008. Several interventions accompanied the public launch. About 400 places where collected and documented by users subsequently to the start event.

Since March 2009 the »Leitbild« group runs the cologne-release of the software self-dependent and takes full responsibility for content moderation and technical support.

A second implementation of the Unortkataster application served for a public inquiry about the disposal of the budget of the city of Hagen and was conducted by communication-designer Maren Sieker. The release was running from February to May 2009 and lead to a collection of 80 proposed saving-suggestions by citizens.

Basic features:

  • content moderation
  • user administration
  • marker clustering
  • timeline driven marker filtering
  • content map and list views
  • two votings
  • integrated wordpress based news-blog
  • news teaser


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