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Diagnostic Design: A Framework for Activating Civic Participation through Urban Media

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This research examines how participatory design, data visualization and urban informatics can be combined to add long-term social, cultural and economic value to urban planning in Australian cities. As smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), urban screens and media architecture attract increasing attention globally, researchers, governments, urban planners, curators and designers are questioning how they can support sustainable urban development, civic innovation and economic productivity through community engagement and social participation. However, the longterm social, cultural and commercial potential of urban media to vitally augment precinct development is dependent on cities having the tools to engage stakeholders with a sense of participation grounded in openness, transparency and inclusion. As yet these tools do not exist in any consolidated form. Research conducted at The Concourse in Willoughby, NSW, suggests that meaningfully engaging interactive polling content deployed on a combination of tablet interfaces for data entry in concert with live screening of the public interactive space creates an effective balance between private and public aspects of civic participation. On the basis of the findings of this study we propose a framework that enables participatory citizen engagement to foster thriving urban communities and ‘smart’ development. Additionally, we discuss how participatory urban media benefits business as a key community stakeholder. This diagnostic approach builds sustainable value for all stakeholders allowing for a closer alignment between the objectives of new developments and the preferences, needs and expectations of the citizens who will live and work in them.
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Keywords: civic engagement; participatory design; smart cities; urban activation; urban media; urban planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of New South Wales 2: University of Sydney

Publication date: 01 October 2016

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a double-blind peer reviewed scholarly journal that aims to publish high-quality academic papers that examine the role of design in business and/or society, case studies, design critiques, and book reviews of relevant literature. Our aim is to promote cross-disciplinary research in the field of design. Therefore, in addition to design papers we are also interested in receiving manuscripts on research about design that are coming from non-design areas, such as business, marketing, management, health, psychology, social sciences, environmental sciences, and others.
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