We hope to create a web tool that facilitates true citizen engagement in the decisions of local government by providing stakeholders with the means to express their opinions on proposed projects and be co-designers on these projects. This tool will allow detailed stakeholder mapping which ensures that citizens get quick access to relevant issues in their neighborhoods, while also learning user preferences for issues so they can engage with issues of interest. By using a simple web extension and a containerized web-app, the tool will allow cities to set up their own systems within minutes with customized rules for moderatorship and in-depth insights into how citizens want their government to work. Unlike other tools in the space, further, this tool includes the government and local businesses as stakeholders. This means that citizens can directly petition specific officials involved in project implementation in a wholly transparent way. Preferences are modeled by assigning latent preferences per-topic to each user. Latent variables are updated using a simple Bayes' update based on a topic analysis model of articles saved through the tool’s browser extension. We aspire to test the model using a historical example, the intended construction of an apartment building in a pre-existing neighborhood, in concert with the Philadelphia planning department. If this falls through, we also intend to test it locally with a Penn organization.
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