Engaging the Crowd: Lessons for Outreach and Tool Design From a Creative Online Participatory Study

Engaging the Crowd: Lessons for Outreach and Tool Design From a Creative Online Participatory Study

Johannes Mueller (ETH Zurich, Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, Singapore), Shiho Asada (ETH Zurich, Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, Singapore) and Ludovica Tomarchio (ETH Zurich, Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2020040101.oa
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Abstract

In this article, the challenges of realising e-participatory projects in urban planning are described. A participatory case study in Singapore serves as the basis for their presented conclusions. The researchers used a map-based e-participation tool to collect design proposals from participants for the planning site. The user feedback for the tool interface and the study campaign's website together with designer expertise on user interfaces (UI) was incorporated into the redesign of the website and interface of the participatory design tool. From there, some general guidelines for conducting engagement studies and for designing participatory design tool interfaces for non-expert users were formulated. One key finding is that the information presented to the non-expert user must be concise, and the UI must be adapted to the user's habits and focus the user's attention towards completing the study.
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2. Literature Review

Citizen participation has been proven to be a feasible and an important instrument in the urban planning process. Creative and innovative approaches, in particular, tend to enhance community participation (Cilliers et al., 2011). The theory and practice of engagement tools for urban planning, such as workshops and town-hall meetings, have been broadly discussed among scholars (Wates, 2014; Nanz & Leggewie, 2016) and the various forms of e-participation (Wilson et al., 2017; Kleinhans et al., 2015) and digital participatory tools have already been described in multiple studies. Most tools can be used for face-to-face and online participation and approaches have been developed in tandem with the use of such tools, which differ from traditional engagement methods. Stelzle and Noennig (2017) have developed a database of how tools have been implemented in the planning process. The typical categorisation of methods into information, consultation, collaboration and empowerment is based on Arnstein’s ladder of participation (Arnstein, 1969). Our study uses a tool that consults citizens on their preferences for issues related to urban planning through micro-design tasks.

All participatory projects, regardless of the form or medium, must fulfil particular requirements for it to be considered a success. Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, the organisers of several participation projects in Berlin, have formulated five principles for satisfying participatory planning (Heuser et al., 2018):

  • 1.

    The government and the citizens genuinely want civic co-responsibility;

  • 2.

    It should be clear which parameters are negotiable;

  • 3.

    The choice of representatives of each stakeholder must be justified;

  • 4.

    The engagement process must be suitable and transparent and its management neutral;

  • 5.

    Citizens need to stay involved after the engagement is finished.

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