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A City in Common: Explorations on Sustained Community Engagement with Bottom-up Civic Technologies

Balestrini, ME; (2017) A City in Common: Explorations on Sustained Community Engagement with Bottom-up Civic Technologies. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Large technology companies and city councils are increasingly developing smart city programmes: augmenting urban environments with smart and ubiquitous computing devices, to transform how cities are run. At a smaller scale, communities of citizens are appropriating technologies to tackle matters of concern and to effect positive change from the bottom-up. HCI researchers are also deploying civic technology in the wild, sometimes collaborating with these communities, in the pursuit of both scientific and societal impact. However, little is known about how impactful they have been, and the extent to which they have meaningfully engaged communities in the long term. The goal of this PhD is to identify the factors that can guide the design and deployment of engaging, sustainable and impactful civic technology interventions, from the perspective of the communities that they are intended to benefit. Three case studies are presented: an ethnographic study of an existing civic technology, and two design and evaluation studies of novel interventions. A set of themes was derived from the studies that highlight factors that are positively associated to engagement, sustainability and impact. Based on these themes and on experience from deploying interventions, a framework was developed and validated. It comprises six key phases: identification of matters of concern, framing, co-design of community technologies, deployment, orchestration, and evaluation. In line with a new wave of civically engaged HCI and participatory methods, the framework puts people at the heart of socio-technical innovation and technology in the service of the common good by fostering the development of a commons: a pool of community managed resources. Using this approach, the thesis explores how researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, city councils and communities can collaborate to address community issues using digital technologies. It further suggests how citizens can be supported to develop skills that will allow them to appropriate the intervention for their own situated purposes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A City in Common: Explorations on Sustained Community Engagement with Bottom-up Civic Technologies
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: Civic tech, citizen engagement, smart city, commons, framework, Human Computer Interaction, Open Data, Citizen Sensing, Qualitative, In the wild
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1547540
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