Polaris: for better neighbourhoods

Four people are sitting in a conference room. The glass door provides a double reflection.

Whether it’s news, social media, notifications or videos – we are inundated with a flood of information on a daily basis. And it’s not just the sheer, increasingly overwhelming volume that causes problems: it’s also getting more and more difficult to identify trustworthy sources. This results in a growing mistrust not just of the established media, but also within society more generally. The foundations of healthy coexistence are being shaken. Yet, given the many crises surrounding us, social cohesion is more important than ever. So how can we strengthen «real» communities? 

A news network from your neighbourhood

To address this issue, Polaris has taken a new approach, with support from the Migros Pioneer Fund. And the magic word for this approach is «local». The project looks to establish a network for local neighbourhood news with the help of the neighbours themselves. Users produce news content in accordance with journalistic principles and with the help of assistive technology. The stories are then verified by the community, meaning the neighbours check each other’s  work. News from the neighbourhood is supplemented by information from government offices and administrations, as well as updates from civil society organisations, schools and churches.

Establishing trust in society

Polaris aims to strengthen people’s connections with their own surroundings and their neighbourhoods, as well as to improve users’ media literacy by empowering them to produce their own news content to journalistic standards. This approach is designed to establish a (new) level of trust in society.

Polaris is developing a neighbourhood news network. The project is the result of a one-year research and design phase made possible by the Migros Pioneer Fund and the Mercator Switzerland foundation. The concept of an ultra-local news app arose from discussions with potential users, media representatives and local media during the feasibility study. Assistive technology and community verification will ensure the content meets journalistic standards. In the current funding phase, the aim is collectively to develop the prototype user-controlled neighbourhood news app in three pilot regions across Switzerland, each with around 10,000 to 30,000 people. The first pioneer regions are the town of Zug and the Geneva region.

Logo Wortmarke Polaris


Find out more about this Migros community involvement initiative - perhaps it's just what you're looking for?

Photo/stage: © Goran Basic

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