Study of Atlanta civic tech - 2016


#1

Sorry if this is old hat for the Atlanta brigade, but may be useful as we all look at the relationships among private and public sector needs and priorities for civic tech at the local level:

Data, design and civics: An exploratory study of civic tech](https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2858326). K Boehner, C DiSalvo - Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Pages 2970-2981.
ABSTRACT: Civic technology, or civic tech, encompasses a rich body of work, inside and outside HCI, around how we shape technology for, and in turn how technology shapes, how we govern, organize, serve, and identify matters of concern for communities. This study builds on previous work by investigating how civic leaders in [Atlanta, GA] civic tech, in particular, how they approach the intersection of data, design and civics. We encountered a range of overlapping voices, from providers, to connectors, to volunteers of civic services and resources. Through this account, we identified different conceptions and expectation of data, design and civics, as well as several shared issues around pressing problems and strategic aspirations. Reflecting on this set of issues produced guiding questions, in particular about the current and possible roles for design, to advance civic tech.


#2

paywall :frowning_face:

any takeaways to share?


#3

Sorry about the paywall. You may find a free access avenue via scholar.google.com I’ll try to look soon and summarize their last point, RE: >>this set of issues produced guiding questions, in particular about the current and possible roles for design, to advance civic tech.<<


#4

Thanks for the pointer @JBStephens

I purchased a copy of the paper, which includes the following license (emphasis mine):

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for
personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not
made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this
notice and the full citation on the first page.

If you would like a digital copy of the work for personal non-profit use, ping me.


#5

Tom - thanks for having a copy ready to share.
Here’s at least a starting summary so people can have a bit more information about what the study was about and - per my interests/biases - what I think may apply to brigade leadership

Data, design and civics: An exploratory study of civic tech. K Boehner, C DiSalvo - Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Pages 2970-2981.
Boehner and DiSalvo – at Georgia Tech – School of Literature, Media and Communication
kirstenboehner@gatech.edu and carl.disalvo@lmc.gatetech.edu

John Stephens Summary 1/3/19 – Focused on likely interests of brigade leaders and participants

Aim: Seek themes from stakeholders to describe the interplay of data, design and civics. Allows exploration of work, goals, challenges around topics such as big data, open data, community mapping, community sensing and Internet of things. Design focus to “tease out how practitioners poised to shape the use and development of civic tech approach and value design.”

Interviews of 13 people from ten organizations. Three kinds of “voices”:

a) Provider voice –worker or perspective focused on government resources, policies and services and how civic tech can contribute to accountability and responsiveness for public good

b) Volunteer voice – Outside of formal government, altruistic use of skills and interests for a greater cause

c) Connector voice – links community activists with government entities or data; “mediated the intersection of civics as business and as altruism”

Seven provider voices; five volunteer voices; and seven connector voices (six of the interviewees hold two categories). One interviewee from Code for Atlanta - categorized as both connector and volunteer. No interviewees are identified by name, only by organization.

Emergent Issues/Themes

Problems: nuts and bolts of data, design and civics – such as getting information into form readily accessible or keeping databases up to date.

Opportunities: strategic visions guiding near and long-term objectives and resource choices.

Overall: four themes i/ Access; ii/ Fragmentation; iii/ Guiding metaphors; iv/ Literacy
Authors provide quotes and summaries from interviewees to elaborate how the four themes are understood – but not necessarily with agreement among interviewees. Example: “From connectors and volunteers, we heard that hackathons can begin to feel like they are chasing the same problem.” [p. 2974]

Looking Forward – different perspectives (Compatible? Conflicting?)

a) Need to move from hype to reality – navigating this area calls for “getting down to basics”
b) Sticking to basics is not enough for the opportunities of civic tech/data/design
c) Mapping Civic Tech not just about a continuum:

Projects to improve existing services ---- Projects to redefine civics

Need to allow for “curiosity” and “exploration” that may lead toward one end of the spectrum or the other, “but maybe in unexpected or circuitous ways.” [p. 2978]

d) Hackathons – have value beyond any particular project/app completion and use. Value “in the exchanges” such as pushing skill sets in new ways, meeting like-minded folks, learning about municipal functions and problems. [p. 2978]