UMD iSchool Researchers Jennifer Preece and Tamara Clegg’s Interaction Design Paper Published in PNAS


UMD iSchool News

Interaction design of community-driven environment projects (CDEPs): A case study from the Anacostia Watershed

Water is becoming an increasingly precious resource across the world, but citizens can help ensure good-quality water by helping to manage their local watersheds. Local, place-based advocacy projects that are strongly grounded within their geographical area have the potential to inspire environmental change as citizens come together to collectively address environmental challenges in their own neighborhoods. However, less attention has been given to these small, intensely place-based local projects. Our research focuses on the interaction design of technology to support small, local, place-based “community-driven environmental projects” (CDEPs) for water management in the Anacostia River Watershed. Analysis of case study data collected over a 3-y period to identify the needs of CDEP members provides the basis for the interaction design of technology known as NatureNet to support CDEPs. From this research, six design insights for supporting CDEPs are suggested: (i) a shared common endeavor connected to the identity of the members, (ii) ways for newcomers and experienced participants to share a common space and function together effectively, (iii) support for different sources of knowledge, (iv) different modes of participation and ways for participants to express themselves, (v) different ways to express status through diverse opportunities, and (vi) support for porous and changing leadership roles. Taken together, the findings from our study suggest a preference for technology-lite, highly flexible software that supports the diverse needs of CDEP members.

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