Rakes, Rats, Cycling and Recycling: UMSI students develop information tools for Ferndale, MI

Following a successful three-year partnership with the City of Jackson, Michigan, the University of Michigan School of Information’s Citizen Interaction Design program moved in fall 2016 to Ferndale.

Citizen Interaction Design is a novel approach to learning that partners local governments with University of Michigan student teams. Together, the goal is to develop new information tools that help foster citizen engagement.

“This initiative seeks to engage our students in service learning opportunities through the creation of information tools and services in local communities,” said Scott TenBrink, Community Project Manager for the program. “By partnering with the overall community rather than with individual organizations, the intention is to fundamentally change how citizens engage with their local governments and non-profit organizations through the design and implementation of new tools.”

The student teams that participated in the course presented their projects and their proposed solutions to a panel of experts at a Civic Tech Exposition on Tuesday, December 6 between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at the Rust Belt Market, 22801 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

This fall, working with city officials, the students tackled four urban challenges. Each link below is a brief video of students explaining their projects.

•    Ferndale Moves:  Create a better way to support better, safer and more cycling in Ferndale by sharing information that is relevant and useful to bicyclists.

•    Leaf Collection: Develop an information tool to support clearing neighborhoods of fallen leaves in a civil and cooperative manner

•    Rat Chat: Develop an information solution that helps residents work collectively and share information to reduce rat population

•    Recycling: Build an information tool or system that aligns incentives to generate more recycling activity

The panelists who heard and commented on the student presentations included Erica Raleigh, Executive Director of Data Driven Detroit, and Adam J. Hecktman, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation for Chicago at Microsoft Corp.

Citizen Interaction Design was created and is taught by UMSI Associate Professor Clifford Lampe. The program has received support from the School of Information, the Provost’s Office of the University of Michigan, and the White House and Small Business Association. In 2015, it was a finalist for the Michigan Municipal League’s Community Excellence Award and won first place in its division.

Visit the program website at http://citizeninteraction.org.


Posted November 29, 2016; Updated January 26, 2017