Mobile Apps Aim to Improve Civic Engagement in Local Government

As reported in Governing, many local governments see civic engagement as a way to help reconnect citizens to the public sector. Some see civic technologies — including the rapid proliferation of mobile apps — as an easy way to reignite interest and interaction.

In Boston, officials began working with long-time partner Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Game Laboratory (EGL) at Emerson College, to figure out how a local government can learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to civic technologies.

To help cities figure out what improves civic engagement, EGL and Boston’s office created an evaluation framework called Design Action Research with Government(DARG), which takes the guesswork out of designing apps. DARG is designed to work not just with new mobile apps but with other types of existing tools, such as 311 hotlines. Its step-by-step approach includes setting goals, finding partners, establishing research questions to find out what change in civic behavior is desired, figuring out how to measure that change and finding the tool that’s best for testing whether the goal has been achieved.

For more information, see the full story in Governing.