Collaborative Futures, Glasgow’s Future Citizens in 2030, was a collaboration between Glasgow School of Art’s Innovation school and Glasgow City Council’s Centre for Civic Innovation. The project explored what a well-governed city might look like in 2030, through the lens of data experiences and experiencing data. I was one of two masters students on the project team, working with two graduate designers, GSA’s Creative Engagement Research Fellow and the Academic Lead.
The project explored how the council might respond to citizens’ current and emerging needs, allowing for greater transparency and citizen-centric decision-making. The project lens was ‘Data Experiences and Experiencing Data’, and explored the role of data in enabling citizens to shape their own civic participation.
The objective of the project was to investigate how, in the near future, GCC could enable data-driven decision-making; giving people access to and understanding of their own data, and the collective data of others, to activate future citizens capable of shaping their own participation, with the council and community, and with the city around them.
The project approach was a collaborative, explorative one, using design as a form of inquiry to speculate the possible future needs of citizens. This evidence-based approach involved gathering future-focused knowledge through desk and field research as well as within the Council Exploratory workshops and the Citizen Engagement workshops, followed by the subsequent synthesis and analysis of this knowledge into findings that are communicated through the Future World, Future Citizens and Experience Narratives.
In the year 2030, data is becoming the main conduit through which citizens are understood by public bodies, as more and more interactions migrate online, and sensors and tracking devices are more prevalent in urban spaces. As a result, public organisations have needed to become more transparent, and there is a growing demand for understanding around how citizens’ data is collected, used and kept safe. Citizens have more opportunities to participate in public decision making, but the unintended consequences of this need to be addressed.
Welcome to Choiceton, a landscape where the citizen-council relationship is supported by Artificial Intelligence and a variety of digital tools. Can digital approaches to understanding citizens gather meaningful data or do they leave gaps in understanding citizens’ needs, beliefs and values?
Empowered with data and supported by the council, citizens in Localtoun can be the real experts of their neighbourhood and take ownership of it. Decision making is decentralised, community representatives have more power and the council’s role is to make data and information transparent and open, to support citizens.
In Efficiencity, citizens’ data is the key conduit between citizens and the council. Artificial Intelligence (AI) supports and augments citizenship, by creating new ways for citizens to participate more passively, with less time commitment and the systems are more efficient, responding to the needs of all citizens.
“It was an absolute pleasure working on the Collaborative Futures project team. The wide and varied dimension of this approach broadened my extensive experience in public engagement and provided many different lenses on the needs and demands the people of Glasgow may require from the Council in the next ten years.
Fresh perspectives and collaborative working produced a valuable resource to assist in the evolution of local democracy and decision making. We hope we can use this fabulous work to inform and co-produce our Participatory Budgeting strategy for 2020 – 2030.
Glasgow City Council were awarded the Nesta Democracy Pioneers award in March 2020. This funding will help us work with young people to co-create environmental recommendations in the lead up to COP 26. The potential to take forward the GSA recommendations as well as work with young people to pioneer a new and better democracy is exciting.”
– Evelyn O’Donnell, Community ENgagement Officer, Glasgow City Council