How inclusive social infrastructures integrate diverse expertise to cultivate the curiosity of cities – Erik Johnston

Cities become more curious when their underlying governance infrastructures are designed to detect, deliberate, and discover. The first half of this talk defines and describes the capacities developed as cities experiment with novel information interventions to governance challenges. The second half of the talk highlights the benefits of cultivating curiosity in three systems contexts: 1) using an information intervention so distributed community resources can self-organize to reduce heat vulnerability, 2) co-designing an information-rich deliberation environment to explore transportation and education futures in Arizona, and 3) exploring how DIY health communities invented a patient-designed artificial pancreas for type-one diabetics. Each example demonstrates the impact of inclusive problem solving that connects best practices, local expertise, and diverse perspectives/values.

About Erik Johnston

Dr. Erik Johnston is a Professor with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society where he is also the Chair the of the Ph.D. program in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology.

He is the Co-Director of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions and the Director of Policy Informatics at the Decision Theater. His research in smart cities and regions integrates open governance and policy informatics applications of public interest technology to serve all communities, including participation from traditionally underserved populations. His research in opening governance explores how our governance systems can evolve to address increasingly complex challenges and to meet the rising expectations of the public to have many pathways to share their talents, data, expertise, and energy to improve their communities. His research in policy informatics is the study of how computational and communication technology is leveraged to specifically understand and address complex public policy and administration problems and realize innovations in governance insights, processes, and institutional design.

Reducing health and infrastructure vulnerability to current and future threats requires innovative, interdisciplinary approaches that appreciate the interdependencies across multiple social systems like education and health, integrating basic and applied natural and social science in a framework that not only provides stakeholders with new evidence to support effective decision-making, but also accelerates the identification of the next series of important questions that research must address in cooperation with community partners. He currently has funding from the MacArthur, Robert Wood Johnson, Sloan, Schmidt, Piper, and National Science Foundations.  Dr. Johnston earned a PhD in Information and a Certificate in Complex Systems from the University of Michigan. He is a two-time NSF IGERT fellow, in the STIET (Socio-Technical Infrastructure for Electronic Transactions) and IDEAS (Institutions, Diversity, Emergence, Adaptation, and Structures) programs.