Do city dashboards make sense? Conceptualising user experiences and challenges in using city dashboards. A case study
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Vornhagen, Heike, Zarrouk, Manel, Davis, Brian, & Young, Karen. (2021). Do city dashboards make sense? Conceptualising user experiences and challenges in using city dashboards. A case study. Paper presented at the DG.O2021: The 22nd Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (DG.O’21), Omaha, NE, USA, 9-11 June, doi:10.1145/3463677.3463695
City dashboards present information about a city to a broad audience with some thought given as to how some of these audiences might understand the information. However, little research has looked at how ’citizens’ make sense of dashboards. Using two sample dashboards, we asked community activists from four different areas (Health, Environment, Transport and Agriculture) to explore the information displayed. Using grounded theory approaches, we looked at factors which support or hinder users sense-making. From further analysis of the data we identify four key challenges that need to be addressed to support users making sense of city dashboards: lack of support given for understanding the information and data presented, lack of possibilities for users to engage, lack of purpose, and a lack of governance. We recommend a series of design and development actions for city dashboards creators for each challenge area. The desire to give access to open data through dashboards requires a considerable investment of time and resources - an investment that is wasted if dashboards are not useful to their users (citizens) and, as a result, are not used.