Exploring Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) as a Public Participation Tool for Design and Planning
Public participation in the design and planning process aims to engage citizens in the local decision-making process. Although participation provides a multitude of benefits, significant physical, temporal and attitudinal barriers have limited its potential. Social media technologies have the potential to address these traditional barriers to participation. Little research has addressed the opportunities, challenges, and effectiveness of these technologies in traditional planning and design frameworks. The goal of this research was to explore and evaluate the role of social media as a participatory tool in the planning and design process using a multiple case study method. Interviews were conducted with representatives from municipalities and consulting firms to develop case histories for evaluation. Results suggest ways in which social media can be an effective participatory tool, and that the incorporation of social media into municipal and institutional settings, while creating uncertainty, can create opportunity for more authentic participation within governance.