CommunityPulse

CommunityPulse

A screenshot of the CommunityPulse layout. It has several rows of information representing a proposal, comment key words, and a stacked bar chart summarizing the emotions in comments associated with that proposal.

Led by: Mahmood Jasim
PDF CommunityPulse: Facilitating Community Input Analysis by Surfacing Hidden Insights, Reflections, and Priorities

Increased access to online engagement platforms has created a shift in civic practice, enabling civic leaders to broaden their outreach to collect a larger number of community input, such as comments and ideas. However, sensemaking of such input remains a challenge due to the unstructured nature of text comments and ambiguity of human language. Hence, community input is often left unanalyzed and unutilized in policymaking. To address this problem, we interviewed 14 civic leaders to understand their practices and requirements. We identified challenges around organizing the unstructured community input and surfacing community’s reflections beyond binary sentiments. Based on these insights, we built CommunityPulse, an interactive system that combines text analysis and visualization to scaffold different facets of community input. Our evaluation with another 15 experts suggests CommunityPulse’s efficacy in surfacing multiple facets such as reflections, priorities, and hidden insights while reducing the required time, effort, and expertise for community input analysis.

If you are interested in working on or learning more about this project, please contact Mahmood Jasim at mjasim@cs.umass.edu

CommunityClick

CommunityClick

Led by: Mahmood Jasim
CommunityClick: Capturing and Reporting Community Feedback from Town Halls to Improve Inclusivity
CommunityClick: Towards Improving Inclusivity in Town Halls

Local governments still depend on traditional town halls for community consultation, despite problems such as a lack of inclusive participation for attendees and difficulty for civic organizers to capture attendees’ feedback in reports. Building on a formative study with 66 town hall attendees and 20 organizers, we designed and developed CommunityClick, a communitysourcing system that captures attendees’ feedback in an inclusive manner and enables organizers to author more comprehensive reports. During the meeting, in addition to recording meeting audio to capture vocal attendees’ feedback, we modify iClickers to give voice to reticent attendees by allowing them to provide real-time feedback beyond a binary signal. This information then automatically feeds into a meeting transcript augmented with attendees’ feedback and organizers’ tags. The augmented transcript along with a feedback-weighted summary of the transcript generated from text analysis methods is incorporated into an interactive authoring tool for organizers to write reports. From a field experiment at a town hall meeting, we demonstrate how CommunityClick can improve inclusivity by providing multiple avenues for attendees to share opinions. Additionally, interviews with eight expert organizers demonstrate CommunityClick’s utility in creating more comprehensive and accurate reports to inform critical civic decision-making. We discuss the possibility of integrating CommunityClick with town hall meetings in the future as well as expanding to other domains. 

Our next step in this project is to virtualize the iClicker component to enable silent attendees to share their opinions during online meetings and discussions.

If you are interested in working on or learning more about this project, please contact Mahmood Jasim at mjasim@cs.umass.edu

UD Co-Spaces

UD Co-Spaces

Led by: Narges Mahyar
UD Co-Spaces: A Table-Centred Multi-Display Environment for Public Engagement in Urban Design Charrettes
Collaboration Tools To Support Informed Public Engagement
Project Video

UD Co-Spaces (Urban Design Collaborative Spaces) is an integrated multi-display tabletop centered urban design application that was developed and iteratively improved over five years to engage diverse stakeholders such as planners, designers, and the public in the task of generating and testing urban planning and design options. I Investigated the use of novel visualization and collaborative technologies to make data more accessible, understandable, and useful to enhance public engagement in community design and empower them to make well-informed data-driven and evidence-based decisions. Results of an observational study comparing UD Co-Spaces with the traditional paper-based approach indicated that groups using our system had more equity in terms of collaborative contributions and co-creation of plans, more parallel activities through the use of iPad applications, and more fine-grained discussions about features of the design such as look and alignment of buildings because of the 3D view and the real-time metrics.

ConsensUs

ConsensUs

Led by: Narges Mahyar
ConsensUs: Visualizing Points of Disagreement for Multi-Criteria Collaborative Decision Making

Groups often face difficulty reaching consensus. For complex decisions with multiple latent criteria, discourse alone may impede groups from pinpointing fundamental disagreements. (How) can technology help groups reach better decisions together? To explore this, ConsensUs project explores a visulization approach for multi-criteria group decision making that highlights salient agreements and disagreements between group members.

CitizenSourcing

CitizenSourcing

Led by: Narges Mahyar
Enabling Crowdsourced Visualizations to Support Large-Scale Civic Engagement

The internet has enabled decision makers in government to collect ideas, suggestions and opinions on civic-related issues. While such strategies typically succeed at collecting opinions from citizens, they often lack follow through in which citizens identify conflicts, empathize with other viewpoints, and collectively generate and act on negotiated solutions. To address these challenges, Citizensourcing project focuses on supporting large-scale civic engagement and extending current civic systems where citizens become “sensors” for reporting and collecting civic-related issues, but also participate in problem-solving processes.

Design for San Diego (D4SD)

Design for San Diego (D4SD)

Led by: Narges Mahyar
Website

We partnered with leading local organizations to drive collaboration, innovation and impact. In collaboration with City of San Diego, SCALE SD, the Design Forward Alliance, and the National Science Foundation, we launched Design for San Diego (D4SD), an online platform to engage the public in solving San Diego’s mobility challenges. The challenge is open to anyone from students and senior citizens to entrepreneurs and designers. D4SD creates unique opportunities for the public, government, academia, and industry to collaboratively design innovative civic solutions through a mixed engagement approach. Our project goal was to provide an equal voice for everyone to collaborate with other city innovators to solve the most pressing mobility-related issues in San Diego. In addition, during Fall 2010 Narges Mahyar co-taught a course called Civic Design at UCSD, where she taught the human-centered design principles and provided students with guidance and feedback on their D4SD projects.

Community Crit

CommunityCrit

Led by: Narges Mahyar
CommunityCrit: Inviting the Public to Improve and Evaluate Urban Design Ideas through Micro-Activities, CHI 2018
Website

While urban planning affects the public, most people do not have the time or expertise to participate in the process. CommunityCrit is an online platform that offers “micro-activities” to help community members make meaningful contributions without significant time commitment. In order to lower the barrier for the public, CommunityCrit reduces urban planning documentation into quickly consumable excerpts, and works on a variety of devices. Many online tools solicit public input, yet typically limit interaction to collecting complaints or early-stage ideas. CommunityCrit extends status quo by offering activities that engage community members in elaborating and evaluating urban design ideas, empowers them to contribute, and supports diverse levels of skills and availability.

Civic Data Deluge

Civic Data Deluge

Led by: Narges Mahyar
The Civic Data Deluge: Understanding the Challenges of Analyzing Large-Scale Community Input

Advancements in digital civics have enabled leaders to engage and gather input from a broader spectrum of the public. However, less is known about the analysis process around community input and the challenges faced by civic leaders as engagement practices scale up. To understand these challenges, we conducted 21 interviews with leaders on civic-oriented projects. We found that at a small-scale, civic leaders manage to facilitate sensemaking through collaborative or individual approaches. However, as civic leaders scale engagement practices to account for more diverse perspectives, making sense of the large quantity of qualitative data becomes a challenge. Civic leaders could benefit from training in qualitative data analysis and simple, scalable collaborative analysis tools that would help the community form a shared understanding. Drawing from these insights, we discuss opportunities for designing tools that could improve civic leaders’ ability to utilize and reflect public input in decisions.

RisingEmotions

RisingEmotions

Led by: Carolina Aragón, Mahmood Jasim, Narges Mahyar
PDF RisingEMOTIONS: Bridging Art and Technology to Increase Public Engagement with Climate Change
project website http://www.carolinaaragon.com/#/risingemotions/

RisingEMOTIONS is a collaborative art project that displayed projected flood levels and people’s emotions about sea-level rise in East Boston. The installation showed the elevation for the projected 1% annual chance flood for 2070 with colored ribbons to raise awareness about climate change. The colors represented people’s feelings and contained hand-written transcriptions of comments left by participants in an online survey. Over 150 people responded to the survey about their feelings related to the effects of sea level rise in East Boston. (http://risingemotions.cs.umass.edu/) These responses were color-coded and transcribed into ribbons to represent the feelings. The art project was on display in front of the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library. The opening celebration was attended by Speakers included State Representatives Sen. Adrian Madero and Sen. Joe Boncore, and climate scientists Dr. Paul Kirshen and Chris Watson from UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab.