Situated interfaces for engaging citizens on the go

Luke Hespanhol, Martin Tomitsch, Ian McArthur, Joel Fredericks, Ronald Schroeter, Marcus Foth
2015 Interactions  
Insights • Live screening and playfulness of the interactive space can be effective strategies for attracting the attention of passers-by and turn them into active participants. • While urban screen interfaces increase participation by encouraging group interaction, privately-oriented tangible user interfaces give people a longer time to reflect upon their answers. Governments around the world undertake community engagement to seek better outcomes that reflect the interests and concerns of
more » ... nities and stakeholders, aiming to provide opportunities for more citizens to be involved in decisions that affect their local environment. However, traditional methods of community consultation, such as face-to-face meetings and online surveys often fail to reach a representative proportion of the public, as they are not easily accessible, require people to dedicate time and effort, and risk being disconnected from the sociocultural context [4] [5] . A number of applications have thus been proposed that allow people -as they are passing through public space -to participate and be more engaged in the discussion of civic topics and citymaking. Mobile devices, in particular, have become a popular choice of platform: they are reasonably ubiquitous in modern urban society, can be used on demand and allow for more concise expression of opinions compared to conventional written submissions, particularly when leveraging texting and social media [4] . However, those solutions run the risk of excluding whole sections of the community that for various reasons may not own a mobile phone or may not engage with social media on a regular basis. Although mobile solutions are more situated than online forums, they have a number of drawbacks that pose obstacles to community engagement compared to interfaces blended in the urban environment (such as digital kiosks or urban screens). Just like online forums, mobile solutions move the discussion of local community issues to a digital space, which requires community members to firstly know about the associated mobile channel and secondly to explicitly access it. This represents a hurdle, and a missed opportunity to make these discussions about shared urban spaces more visible. Overall, these limitations support an argument in favour of platforms for civic engagement that explore opportunistic interactions with members of a local community by making input and feedback mechanisms physically situated in or around the public space that the discussion topic relates to. Common challenges and strategies A range of interfaces has been studied in the past few years, including low-cost interactive posters [6], gesture-based large projection displays [5], urban screens [4], and media façades [1]. A common issue observed in field trials of situated public displays for community engagement is the lack of participation from the public [5]. People usually do not expect public displays to be interactive [3] and either do not notice the interfaces or worry about embarrassing themselves [1]. These effects present barriers to situated community engagement via interactive technologies. Yet, previous field trials show that once people overcome these barriers and submit responses, they express feelings of empowerment and connectedness with the local government and broader community. Based on the analysis of relevant works in the field -such as PosterVote [6], SCSD [1] and MyPosition [5] -we postulate that crucial to successfully deploying situated polling interfaces, is to address the following challenges: Challenge 1. How to increase accessibility to community engagement interfaces, so that a larger section of the community can engage in civic participation [5][6];
doi:10.1145/2851200 fatcat:h3irdjen5bh6bjb7meydezu46i