Collaboration is an iterative process where people work together to solve a problem or develop an idea. Collaboration is more complex than reporting because solutions are not clear – it’s not simply fixing something that is broken. Civic technology applications have been developed for three main aspects of collaboration:
Process applications are designed to help users and agencies come to a decision on complicated issues. They include tools such as voting mechanisms, reputation systems, and links to educational information designed to help facilitate the decision-making process.
Process applications provide a structured forum where users can discuss ideas for solving problems and improving services. They are especially good for obtaining input on large transport projects or investments.
Public agencies should actively monitor discussions on process applications to make certain that they remain civil and on subject. It’s good practice to set clear rules for participation in advance and require users to agree to these rules before being allowed to participate.
Providing information to participants helps improve the quality of ideas and suggestions in all public involvement processes, especially for highly technical subjects like transport.
Internet-based applications are excellent tools for providing information. They can be designed to be highly interactive (e.g., games like BusMeister) and to present information on levels from introductory to highly detailed. One of the great advantages of the Internet is that open source libraries of these tools can be created so that each project does not need to re-invent their own educational programs. We’ve identified three main types of educational applications: games, references and interactive applications.
We want to encourage as many people as possible to participate in public processes because more people means better ideas and more support for the end results. Public support is especially important for complex and controversial projects. Engagement consists of attracting people and keeping them involved in the process.
Gamification, using aspects of game design in the user experience (giving “points” for degree of participation) is a good approach for keeping people actively involved in public processes.
Read more about Transport Games and how they can be used to encourage engagement.
Blog Posts: Collaboration
Tom Saunders of NESTA has written an excellent post: Power to the people: how cities can use digital technology to engage and empower citizens. It recommends four strategies: Resist the temptation to build an app; Think about what you want to engage citizens for; Remember there’s a world beyond the internet; and, Pick the right question for […]
An article in the EU’s online research magazine Horizon, by Fintan Burke titled: How a new generation of games is changing minds (4 April 2016) describes reflective games. It begins: In the last 30 years gaming has grown from a niche hobby to the world’s most profitable form of entertainment. Now, researchers are investigating how they […]
MIT’s Mobility Futures Collaborative and Media Lab’s Changing Places have been developing tools to enable more meaningful citizen engagement in the transportation planning process. The project is supported by the Barr Foundation and makes use of open data. Like this website, the project is designed to help address the difficulties people have in understanding transport […]
The study “Who benefits from civic technology? (PDF) – Demographic and public attitudes research into the users of civic technologies” prepared by mySociety research director Rebecca Rumbul is a very interesting analysis on the state of civic technology today. The study attempted to assess the impact of civic technology – defined as technologies “that enable citizens to hold governments to […]