Data-based Civic Participation

New workshop paper by C. A. Le Dantec in  HCOMP 2014/Citizen + X: Workshop on Volunteer-based Crowdsourcing in Science, Public Health and Government, Pittsburgh, PA. November 2, 2014:  “Within the past five years, a new form of technology -mediated public participation that experiments with crowdsourced data production in place of community discourse has emerged. Examples of this class of system include SeeClickFix, PublicStuff, and Street Bump, each of which mediate feedback about local neighborhood issues and help communities mobilize resources to address those issues. The experiments being playing out by this new class of services are derived from a form of public participation built on the ideas of smart cities where residents and physical environments are instrumented to provide data to improve operational efficiency and sustainability (Caragliu, Del Bo, and Nijkamp 2011). Ultimately, smart cities is the application to local government all the efficiencies that computing has always promised—efficiencies of scale, of productivity, of data—minus the messiness and contention of citizenship that play out through more traditional modes of public engagement and political discourse.
The question then, is what might it look like to incorporate more active forms of civic participation and issue advocacy in an app- and data-driven world? To begin to explore this question, my students and I have developed a smartphone app as part of a larger regional planning partnership with the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The app, called Cycle Atlanta, enables cyclists to record their ride data —where they have gone, why they went there, what kind of cyclist they are— in an effort to both generate data for planners developing new bicycling infrastructure and to broaden public participation and input in the creation of those plans…”