Citizenship & Local Governance
Research – Service design – UX/UI
From May 2015 to February 2016, as an end-of-studies project, I worked on
Citizenship & Local Governance in China. You can discover the whole projet,
from researches to final proposition.
Local Governance in China
I started to work on this subject when I discovered the Chinese political system: far from my western cliché which let me think that China is only a dictature, I discovered a system very close to its citizens and their needs. The juweihui and the jiedao banshichu are the two mains offices to deal with the very local matters. Here are two diagrams to quickly understand how it works.
I wanted to have a neutral position during this project, by understanding both actors (citizens and local government) and identifying their needs to propose an efficient product.
Working on this sensitive subject here in China imposed to have a clear methodology, identifying missions and objectives. I divided my work in 5 main categories:
Research: researches on the subject, understand the Chinese political system and context, discover it at the local scale.
Team Management: build a team, ask for help, advices and feedback. Recruit people according to my needs.
Field Reality: design for real people means to go on the field, find a community to set up a basecamp.
Public Relations: because of the political aspect of my project, need to meet politicians and officials.
Design: design thinking, conceptualize ideas, make prototypes, and design service.
This is what I was planning to do, at the beginning of my project:
What really happened
I went to a community called "DingHaiQiao" where I met Chinese citizens. I quickly understood that this place was really sensitive: threatened by destruction in order to construct buildings (as many other places in Shanghai), people there are upset by their life conditions. I learnt that they had bad relations with the Jiedao (the local government) which wants to expel them. The communication is over, and local authorities have not any tools to improve its mediation.
The following diagram shows what really happened. On the next slides, there are what insights I get from the field, and what position I had during this phase.
Because of the community's sensitivity, I had to abandon DingHaiQiao and to restart of finding a community, and use it as a basecamp to carry out my project.
I found a new community called Siping, and it was much more calm and peaceful than DingHaiQiao. I also met Chinese citizens, interviewed them about their relation with the local government, and asked them to join some design tests and experiments. Unfortunately, all of them refused: working on politics in China was much more difficult than what I thought. Siping's Jiedao also refused to meet me, always delaying our meeting.
Even if I could not meet and test as I thought during the research phase, I learnt some insights from I have seen on the field and the people I met:
• Chinese adult citizens are quite positive about how works the local political system, and would like to improve the citizen participation.
• Chinese young citizens are not intersted in the system, but use their own tools and act as in a new way as citizens (Assistance chat group between them, sugestion...)
• I discovered the Hangzhou official website, where people are invited to discuss about proposition and give opinion on their daily life; public authorities are looking for citizens feedbacks to anticipate their needs, know all the hot topics...
Gather Local Government and Citizens in a same public service
Let citizens from a same community talk and debate about topics from their neighborhood, let them make propositions to local authority, and let them vote for it.
The Local Government could improve its mediation, offering local news to its citizens, gets feedbacks, know all the hot topics and anticipate their needs.
Discussion: create discussion with your neighbors and the other citizen nearby about subject related to your community.
Newsfeed: know what's going on in your neighborhood: official news, citizen news, datas, surveys...
Proposition: make your own proposition with other citizens on local matters.