Next Stop Design is part of a research project by a team of researchers at the University of Utah, in cooperation with the Utah Transit Authority and funded by a grant from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration. The purpose of the project is to use the Web to bring in new voices and different ideas to the public participation process for transit planning. The site is designed to test the crowdsourcing model as a way to improve this public participation process.
The research team applied for Federal Transit Administration grant 2008-DOT-FTA-PTPP: Innovative Small Research Projects to Advance Public Participation Related to Public Transportation Planning and were awarded a grant. The first round of testing involves the design of a bus stop for the University of Utah campus’ “business loop,” a major transfer stop for the area.
The hope is that Next Stop Design will shed light on the ways people participate in government decision making and design activities—such as bus stop design—online, and that similar projects can be undertaken to solve other public problems and needs.
Crowdsourcing is an online, distributed problem solving and production model. Coined in June 2006 by Wired magazine contributing editor Jeff Howe, “crowdsourcing” refers to an open creative process combined with a centralized, managed production and implementation process. Crowdsourcing is similar to—but certainly not the same as—open source production.
The crowdsourcing model is most notably a for-profit model used by companies such as Threadless, InnoCentive, and in contests such as the Goldcorp Challenge and user-generated advertising campaigns. The Peer to Patent Community Patent Review project is a non-profit, government example of crowdsourcing, using the power of the crowd to make the patent application review process more efficient for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Underpinning the crowdsourcing model is the notion of collective intelligence, which assumes a base of talent in a large network, as well as “crowd wisdom,” which suggests that the aggregate of individual ideas in a crowd is often quite valuable. Next Stop Design is an attempt to leverage the collective intelligence of an online community for public good, to crowdsource a public design problem to citizens in an innovative way. The hope is to translate the lessons learned from innovative Web-based business practices into problem solving tools for the greater good.
Thomas W. Sanchez, Principal Investigator
Thomas W. Sanchez is an associate professor and chair of the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. He conducts research in the areas of transportation, land use, environmental justice, and the social aspects of planning and policy. His research has been published in leading urban affairs and planning journals, including the Journal of the American Planning Association, Housing Policy Debate, Urban Studies, Journal of Planning Education and Research, and the Journal of Urban Affairs. Sanchez is also a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, review editor for the Journal of the American Planning Association, and chair of the Transportation Research Board Social and Economics Factors Committee.
Daren C. Brabham, Project Lead
Daren C. Brabham is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teaching fellow in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, as well as an associate graduate researcher for the Lab for Communicating Complexity with Multimedia at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is among the first to publish on the topic of crowdsourcing, with research in Convergence, Planning Theory, First Monday, and Flow. Next Stop Design is the focus of his dissertation, directed by Joy Pierce.
Jim Agutter, Investigator
Jim Agutter is a research assistant professor in the School of Architecture and assistant director of the Center for the Representation of Multi-Dimensional Information at the University of Utah. He is also vice-president of Intellivis Incorporated and CEO of Applied Medical Visualizations. He has worked extensively on information design challenges and has been involved in the research area of information design for the past seven years.
Keith Bartholomew, Investigator
An environmental lawyer, Keith Bartholomew is an assistant professor in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. He is a member of the Oregon State Bar, the Education Chair for the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association, and a Trustee for the Utah Transit Authority. His recent publications have appeared in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Fordham Urban Law Journal, and the Journal of Urbanism, in addition to Growing Cooler, a book he co-authored in 2008 published by the Urban Land Institute.
Ryan E. Smith, Investigator
Ryan E. Smith is an assistant professor and assistant director of the Center for Integrated Design and Construction in the School of Architecture at the University of Utah. He teaches in the areas of materials and process of design to construction, sustainability of materials, digital means that facilitate design to construction, and building technology ~ studio integrative pedagogy.
Mike Davie, Web Designer
Michael Davie is a freelance Web developer and graphic designer in Salt Lake City.
Annie Maxfield, Public Relations Manager
Annie Maxfield is a public relations and marketing professional in Salt Lake City, as well as an associate instructor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. Her research interests include new media literacy, social justice, and communication.
Personal Democracy Forum Blog, Next Stop Design: Three months later – September 4, 2009
Spacing Toronto, World Wide Wednesday: Bus stops, a back alley ampitheatre and Gehry’s wave of the hand – August 26, 2009
Urban CSA, New model for citizen engagement? – August 24, 2009
NorthWest Hub, Transit for the people by the people? – August 21, 2009
Spreading Science: Science 2.0 and Beyond Blog, Using crowds to solve problems – August 12, 2009
Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, Get ready to participate: Crowdsourcing and governance – August 10, 2009
The Official Google SketchUp Blog, Design a better bus stop – June 29, 2009
The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, Federal News Radio 1500 AM, Bus stops, crowdsourcing and your agency – June 19, 2009
White House Blog, New technologies and participation – June 12, 2009
Human Transit Blog, Crowdsourcing bus stop design – June 10, 2009
The Transit Wire, Next stop – a better bus stop – June 10, 2009
Making Places (The Project for Public Spaces Blog), Places in the news – June 8, 2009
Personal Democracy Forum Blog, DoT tries a more democratic approach to design – June 7, 2009
Transport Access Outside Blog, Crowdsourced placemaking in Utah – June 2, 2009
CoolTown Studios Blog, First fed funded crowdsourced placemaking! – June 1, 2009
Planetizen Blog, Top 10 free Web applications for planning – May 27, 2009