The design of civic technology: factors that influence public participation and impact
Civic technology needs to be better understood in terms of the factors that promote representative public participation and impact. This paper reports on a mixed-methods study of a civic tech platform that enabled the public to provide feedback on public transport to the service providers. The overall aim of this research was to investigate the public's use of a leading civic tech platform, FixMyTransport. The key findings were that: an effective and easy-to-use civic technology platform enables broad participation; data and process complexity need to be removed; factual information can be captured in situ with impacts, consequences and opinions added later; emotions (if important) need to be explicitly elicited; feedback to, and a 'conversation' with, the users is important for engagement, as is a feeling of being part of a community. These findings can contribute to the future design of civic technology platforms. Practitioner Summary: There is a lack of understanding of how 'civic tech' platforms are used and how they may be designed for maximum effectiveness. Multiple data collection methods were used to investigate a well-developed example of civic tech. Effective civic tech can enable broad democratic participation to improve public services.
This study was initiated during the lifetime of the Ideas In Transit project (www.ideasintransit.org) supported by the UK Government via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under Grant Ref. EP/F005172/1, the Technology Strategy Board under Grant Ref. 400050 and the Department for Transport.
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