Toby Blume runs Urban Forum, a charity helping community groups and local people influence what happens in their area. Toby is interested in understanding how we can make policy and data understandable to help people engage with decisions that affect them and to help them make informed choices.
Toby facilitated a session, alongside Paul Evans (here are Paul’s slides) on visualising data and policy at LocalGovCamp last Saturday in Birmingham.
In this video, Toby talks about the Visual Camp event he organised in May 2011, which brought together policy makers, developers and designers with citizens, community groups and people working on service frontlines to find creative ways to stimulate debate, understand different needs of different audiences, and how we can better present ideas in more visual or accessible ways.
In the LocalGovCamp session, Toby emphasised how much of the visualisation debate experienced so far has been focused on data, how we make it accessible to people and the tools to enable citizens to make use of data more easily – and less focus on how we visualise policy. We can articulate the essence of policies through visualisation using stories or pictures – such as Big Society or community rights or electoral reform.
Without this, Toby feels it’s difficult to expect citizens to engage in policy making in a meaningful way. Visualisation can be a way to entice people to engage in debating on decisions that affect them.