Civic Data Deluge

Led by: Narges Mahyar
pdf 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.