Place-Based Policymaking and HCI

Design Futures

Abstract

We highlight the tensions, opportunities and challenges faced by citizens in creating policy.

Method

We report on a series of workshops with citizens and city planners to explore place-based policymaking through the case study of neighbourhood planning in the UK.

Takeaways

We found that place-based policymaking processes are complex and difficult to access for citizens.

There has been a growing interest in HCI in designing and developing technology to support democratic participation, particularly in the domain of urban planning or place-based research. In addition, the HCI field has increasingly considered the intersection of HCI and policymaking to understand how our research can have a broader impact.

In this paper, we report on a series of workshops with citizens and city planners to explore place-based policymaking through the case study of neighbourhood planning in the UK. Our analysis highlights the tensions, opportunities and challenges faced by citizens in creating policy. Drawing from our findings, we stress the need for HCI to be actively involved in supporting, innovating and (re)designing civic policymaking processes while emphasising design considerations for the development of technological tools.

Takeaways

Four workshops were conducted – three with citizens and one with city planners – with a total of 11 participants.

We found that place-based policymaking processes are complex and difficult to access for citizens, with a myriad of problems communicating with experts, engaging citizens and writing policy.

We have made a number of recommendations for HCI researchers to become actively involved in supporting, innovating and (re)designing policy processes, and to design tools embedded within policy enabling citizen voices to carry through to decision-making in a real way.

Ultimately, we encourage the field of HCI to consider policy within their research so that rather than designing digital tools in isolation, we can begin to make a stronger impact in public policy.

Place-based policy is only one context within which HCI researchers work, and we believe our findings could have broader implications for other policy domains, although we recognise further research is needed to validate this.

Publications

Place-Based Policymaking and HCI: Opportunities and Challenges for Technology Design

  1. Jennifer Manual
  2. Clara Crivellaro

2020CHI '20: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems