City of Ferndale engagement

Ferndale became a  Citizen Interaction Design partner in the spring of 2016.  Ferndale is an inner-ring suburb of Detroit at the intersection of Woodward and Nine Mile. The city is well-known for a hip and growing restaurant and bar scene, a strong LGBTQ community, and the Dream Cruise of classic cars.  Ferndalians’ love of their community is expressed loudly and often, and frequently in reference to the unique quirks that they consider #FerndaleNormal. The City of Ferndale aims to build on this strong sense of community, and support opportunities for citizens to engage in the decisions and activities that make their city great.

CID kicked off the Ferndale engagement with a study of the customer interaction via the phone system through a summer internship.  Student projects in the fall of 2016 addressed bike safety, recycling, vermin reports, and leaf collection. We look forward to applying our experience gained in Jackson,MI creating new solutions and facilitating great opportunities for citizens to engage in their Ferndale government and community.

Projects in Ferndale

Below is a list of the engagement projects that U-M students worked on through the School of Information's three year engagement with Ferndale.  Click on the semester of engagement link (i.e. W16 for Winter 2016) to view the student team's portfolio of the project:

CID projects in Ferndale (student work semester)

  • Phone Data Analysis (S16) The city knew that their phone system was not optimized for good customer service, so they asked for help.  Through investigation and analysis of phone system data, a CID Summer Fellow recommended changes to the City Hall phone system that would improve the citizen phone experience.
  • Leaf Collection (F16) Students were tasked with finding an information solution to make fall leaf collection better for the citizen. Through user research, they discovered that knowing when leaves were to be picked up was the biggest challenge for citizens.  A new widget on the city website reports all pick-up days when an address is entered.
  • Ferndale Moves (F16) City staff recognized a challenge with safety and awareness issues around use and mis-use of Ferndale bike lanes. The team discovered that an existing online service subscription at the city could be adapted to provide a simple tool for reporting near misses and points of concern for bikers.
  • Recycling (F16) Students worked with city staff to increase recycling activity by residents. Their research indicated that city parks were a space where recycling rates had room for improvement, so they designed the Adopt-A-Park program, in which volunteers claim a park, lead recycling efforts, and report recycling increases.
  • Rat Chat (F16) The team was tasked with creating a way for Ferndale citizens to contribute to solutions for vermin control.  Their solution, Rat Chat, offered a simple, text-based way to report rat information in a format that improved response efficiency of city staff. (link)
  • Police Data Initiative (W17) Students worked with the Ferndale Police Department and community members to implement an open data initiative in the city and increase trust and transparency between the community and the police. By using User-Centered Design Methods, the CID team was able to establish a best-practices process and implementation, including a model dataset for release, and establishing a community open data task force to identify future datasets for release.
  • Ferndale 411: Parking Deck (W17) A new parking deck project in Ferndale required increased communication with concerned residents and business owners. The student team developed an interactive infographic that shares information about the parking deck project, based on user interviews that revealed a lack of public understanding of basic facts about the project.
  • Curbside Calendar (W17)  Building off of the progress of the leaf collection team, these students looked for ways to share additional service information with residents. They built a calendar widget that lists pick-up dates for leaves, recycling, and garbage service based on a submitted address.
  • Docubot for Public Records (W17)  The City Clerk tasked this student team with increasing public access to extensive public records, possibly through digitization.  Through user research, the team identified a more basic problem, that the community wasn’t aware of the role and resources of the City Clerk.  Docubot is a Facebook chatbot that introduces people to the information available in the clerk’s office and helps navigate the search for specific records.
  • Ferndale Business ResourceMap (W17) Students worked in partnership with the City of Ferndale’s Community and Economic Development Department to develop the Ferndale ResourceMap, an online self-assessment tool capable of improving the business developments process. From insight gathered from interviews, mapping, and competitor analysis, they designed the Ferndale ResourceMap to be an online self-assessment tool on the city website.