Trust and Community Engagement in Digital Civics: Exploring Opportunities for Design
Eric Corbett, Georgia Institute of Technology
The work of community engagement performed by public officials in local government provides valuable opportunities for city residents to participate in governance. Technology stands to play an increasingly important role in mediating community engagement; however, currently the practices and relationships that constitute community engagement are understudied in HCI. Of particular importance is the role trust—either establishing trust, or more frequently, overcoming distrust between public officials and city residents. To address this challenge, my research seeks to understand how trust could inform the design of technology to support the work of community engagement performed by public officials in local government. My research first developed a broad, ethnographic understanding of how different domains within local government define and practice the work of engaging residents. Next, I developed a conceptual framework that describes how public officials operationalize trust in their engagement work. I then used design research techniques to develop strategies to guide HCI designers in developing tools to support community engagement based on the needs of trust. To further develop these strategies, I will develop technical interventions within several municipal entities in my local government. My research will culminate in a design framework that will inform development of technology for community engagement using trust.