In this paper we introduce policy informatics as an emerging research space. Policy informatics is the study of how information systems are leveraged towards solving complex public policy problems. Leveraging information systems requires: (1) platforms for citizens to participate and engage in policy processes and with public agencies; (2) public agencies to utilize technologies to take advantage of information reservoirs for evidence-driven policy design; and (3) public agencies to be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Presented in this paper is one illustrative application of policy informatics. We explore human centered participatory platforms for facilitating deliberations on policy issues. When individuals and groups seek to collaborate to resolve policy issues, competing interests and adversarial positions on issues as well as an unawareness of the others’ perspectives often result in poor outcomes. Empathy is the act of imagining, understanding, and actively responding to the conditions and perspectives of another related to a particular situation. Therefore, generating and disseminating a strong feeling of empathy among members in these policy networks is crucial for mitigating conflicts. However, empathy generation and transfer is a complex challenge that requires systematic research within the design of participatory platforms. A thoughtful application of information systems (IS) can help bring diverse stakeholders together and promote cooperation. Human centered IS platforms facilitate richer communication channels and timely feedback to generate a sense of shared community to pursue shared goals. Interactive computer simulations is a form human centered participatory platform, which enables construction of synthetic environments for policy deliberation, and provides participants with an opportunity to jointly explore the decision space to understand the claims of other participants as legitimate.
Reference: Krishnamurthy, R., Desouza, K.C., Johnston, E.W., and Bhagwatwar, A. “A Glimpse into Policy Informatics: The Case of Participatory Platforms that Generate Synthetic Empathy,” Communications of the AIS, Forthcoming.
Core Team Members (from left to right) Mr. Rahul Yadav, Prof. K.K. Bajpai, Prof. Onkar Dikshit, Prof. Sudhir Misra, Dr. Ralph Hall, Dr. Michael Garvin, Ms. Yehyun An, Dr. Kevin C. Desouza, and Prof. Mukesh Sharma
Ralph Hall has provided a nice summary of our recent visit to IIT Kanpur. I enjoyed my time in Kanpur and look forward to seeing this partnership flourish. To read more about the trip, please click here.
Arizona State University (ASU) is a core member of the Alliance for Innovation (AFI), and houses the administrative offices of the AFI at the College of Public Programs. The AFI brings together leading city and county managers who have an appetite for innovation. It serves as a platform for local governments who are passionate about nurturing an innovative culture and building better communities throughout the US and Canada. The Alliance maintains a loyal membership of approximately 400 local governments who employ more than 9,000 employees who take advantage of AFI on-line and in-person services. It hosts two annual conferences every year – Transforming Local government (TLG) which features case studies of the most innovative programs introduced in member governments and the BIG Ideas event where a select group of 100 “thought leaders” come together in a provocative venue to explore emerging issues facing local communities. It operates with another strategic partner, the International City County Manager Association (ICMA), the on-line Knowledge Network which currently has more than 35,000 local government users that provide content, create groups of interest and query one another about best practices. AFI also has a robust learning program through regular webinars and regional workshops. The AFI network can be mobilized to test out innovations that arise from the research, provide seek feedback on research outcomes, and even in the securing of complementary resources. The AFI will also serve as a valuable conduit for disseminating the findings from the research project.
The paper that I co-authored with Volodymyr Lysenko, Charting the coevolution of cyberprotest and counteraction: The case of former Soviet Union states from 1997 to 2011, is now available for download at Convergence. To access the paper, please click here.
I co-authored an article for Planetizen with three students (Trevor Flanery, Jaimy Alex, and Eric Park) who were working at the Metropolitan Institute this summer.
Resilience is a term much bandied about these days in the planning and development professions. Buildings, plans, economies and even cities are expected to be resilient to unforeseen externalities in a world of rapidly changing technologies, climates, and cultures. With this in mind, we at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech would like to engage you, the planning and development community, in a discussion of what exactly it means to be resilient in a planning context, whether this is a laudable goal, and, if so, how we can achieve it. To read more, please click here.