A lot of those trends carry over to our work in civic participation and community decision-making. My stab at
seven six characteristics of community participation in the future:
- Community participation will be multi-touch, both in the narrow sense that touch-based interfaces will grow in utility and sophistication (and that multiple people will increasingly be able to simultaneously use the same devices) and in the broader, multi-media sense that Brogan means.
- Community participation will be increasingly mobile, and in fact we already make great use of mobile devices for Walkshops and other interactive, real-time community decision-making tools.
- Community participation will be two-way. This is the essence of the ”Planning 2.0″ upheaval . . . community decision-making is already becoming much more interactive, and community members are increasingly able to shape outcomes rather than simply providing feedback. In fact, most of the tools we develop and use are designed for just that purpose: help community members better understand the complex choices they face and then provide meaningful input to the decision-makers. The result can be a higher level of engagement, more meaningful input, and better decisions.
- For community planning, I think Brogan’s ideas about media becoming two-way, subscription-based, and long-burn are all tied to an important community participation and decision-making trend: iterativity (iterativeness?). I don’t think that the idea of “planning” will ever be completely replaced by a free form make-it-up-as-you-along model (an idea we explored last year at our “The End of Planning?” Salon at the Saloon at the APA in New Orleans), but clearly these types of tools and techniques enable more iterative and ongoing planning processes, and I expect we’ll see a slide in that direction.
- Community participation will rely more heavily on complex data. This isn’t quite the same as Brogan’s “rich data mined” idea, but I think it’s similar. Data visualization tools like CommunityViz are helping community members understand more clearly the visual, character, and other impacts of various development options, for example, essentially making really complex data more understandable and usable. Hazard mitigation planning tools like the Coastal Resilience Mapping Tool in Long Island are helping community members understand the complex effects of rising sea levels and potential responses.
- Community participation and decision-making will incorporate geolocation tools. Geolocation – which is enabled by the growing market penetration of smart phones – has permeated the commercial app universe for good reason: the devices already incorporate the hardware, and your app knowing where you are opens up a universe of uncharted utility and entertainment. Community participation and civic engagement folks are already finding ways to adapt these technologies (something my colleague Jason Lally discussed after his return for the GeoDesign Summit last month). And the combo of smart phone penetration, geolocation capabilities, and increasingly sophisticated data visualization tools will play out in other ways, such as a growing use of augmented reality tools to help inform about current conditions and to help foster imagination about and understanding of future options.
What do you agree and disagree with? What are we missing?