Researchers from the University of Sydney have tested several technologies in public spaces across Sydney in looking to motivate and nurture the voice of the greater community.
University of Sydney head of design lab, Martin Tomitsch oversaw the year-long study, ‘Vote As You Go’ from 2014 to 2015. He said it investigated novel ways of improving two-way communication between LGAs and Australian citizens to encourage a greater public voice on local and city-wide issues.
In high pedestrian traffic areas, digital screens posed questions about civic issues and services provided by the local government authorities (LGAs) and people responded via a standalone web-run tablet that digitally visualised the response of voters in real-time.
The responses were illustrated on a large screen for the wider public to see and a second digital interface enabled a live camera feed capture people passing by, who cast their vote from where they stood.
According to their response, their position translated on the screen into a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ position.
Tomitsch said that the study revealed how digital technology has the potential to play a more prominent role in urban life by shaping the experience of people passing through it, and creating more collaborative human-centred communities and cities.
“The traditional means of public consultation through community meetings, online surveys, and telephone polling fails to reach a large proportion of the community who are just simply not interested or don’t have the time.
"Vote As You Go illustrated how playful and innovative digital technology has the potential to grab public attention and greater participation from people on the go,” he added.
“While the technology was seamlessly integrated into public areas, it was eye-catching enough to enlist wider public engagement without intruding on people’s daily lives and routines. It gave people the opportunity to share their opinions on the spot through self-initiated participation, rather than being approached.”