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New Touch Points: connecting citizens with local government.

Upgrade existing public transportation routes with touch-screen technology to foster public engagement with government.

Photo of DeletedUser
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Written by DeletedUser

This concept attempts to improve connections between individuals and their local government. For many of us, the only time we express our opinion to government is on election day. Drawing on many of the earlier fantastic inspirations describing web-based platforms for fostering public debate and channeling public opinion to government, I began to ponder ways of expanding the government's ear as well as citizen voices beyond the confines of the voting booth.

I propose leveraging public infrastructure encountered in everyday behavior to connect local government and citizens. Bus stops and subway stations currently function as regular and easily accessible interface points between the public and government. Through technological upgrades - similar to Yahoo's revamp of public transportation in San Francisco - bus stops and subway stations can be transformed into venues where government can solicit public opinion (e.g., "what service is most needed here?") and the public can express themselves. Touchscreens installed in bus stops and subway stations can be used to broadcast government surveys and invite public input on city issues.

With greater public participation, city governments will have a better understanding of what issues residents deem to be the most important. The greatest asset of this concept is its geographic specificity. The questions disseminated through these touch points can be tailored to individual neighborhoods so that the government can collect geographically specific information, analyze how public opinion varies by region, and efficiently develop/deliver services targeted to the unique needs of each geographic area.

This concept also has low barriers to public participation because the individual user does not have to have access to a personal device, app, or the internet, nor does public participation require individuals to break from their ordinary routine in order to express themselves. (Additionally, as a means of generating revenue, one side of the touch screen could be devoted to advertising while the other side is used for public engagement and data collection)

For more information on Yahoo's bus stops in San Francisco, check out:

What resources (money, time, people, technology, etc) will your concept need to be successful?

-Two new main resources are needed for this endeavor: 1) touchscreen technology and 2) data aggregation and analysis software. All other components of this project are likely to require resources, staff and processes that city governments already use.

What steps could you take to implement this idea today?

-survey existing public transportation routes to identify high-use stops and stations as potential sites for touch points -purchase and installation of touchscreen technology -development and installation of data aggregation and analysis software

How can your idea be scaled so that it's implemented in cities around the world?

-conduct pilot project to determine 1) types of questions and 2) interface design that generate the most public engagement.

My Virtual Team

Charlotte Fliegner Rye Clifton


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Photo of Kara Pecknold

I like this idea and agree with Meena: Good content could really create something meaningful here. I like the idea that it could also post some sort of check in point for people - landmarks for storytelling as much as providing obvious assistance at any given stop. It reminds me of this proposed work in Helsinki, which suggests:

Photo of DeletedUser


Great video - very much what I had in mind with this concept. There is a chance that residents could perceive the screens as primarily for tourists - and all the data layers proposed in the Helsinki case is one means of overcoming this risk.

There might also be some potential in juxtaposing vistors' and residents' opinions/feedback of the city - to generate discussion and action around city needs. An outsider's perspective can prompt us to reconsider/review what we have come to appreciate as normal/typical urban experience.

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