Enabling Simple Public Voting and Consultation in Local Communities

This project builds on the Bespoke project, which resulted in the deployment of Viewpoint, a public voting device inspired by difficulties encountered when attempting to encourage residents in a Preston estate to voice their opinions. Many residents did not want to be identified as ‘busybodies’, while others felt disenfranchised and saw little reason to participate in local or national politics.

We developed Viewpoint to address this issue in two ways: by making it easy to offer opinions on local issues, and by providing a feedback mechanism to make the outcome of consultations more visible. The device allowed councillors and local organisations to pose weekly yes or no questions to local residents. The questions were displayed on three publically-located devices, and people could vote easily using two large buttons on the device. Residents also had the option to view the results of the previous week’s question. During a two-month deployment, over 1,800 votes were placed, and the deployment was successful in exposing a number of issues surrounding local democracy and participation.

This project aimed to bring the output of the Bespoke project to residents in the North East, as well as exploring the commercialisation of the design and technology through collaboration with YouGov, a national polling organisation. We achieved this by redeploying Viewpoint in a variety of local contexts with different partners.

Related projects: Bespoke, Viewpoint

Date: July 2011 – June 2012
Funding: EPSRC Additional Impact Sponsorship £28,854
Researchers:  Nick Taylor, Martyn Dade-Robertson