Classification schemes can tell us a lot about organizations, their politics and practices. For citizen feedback applications, incident categories are a central component that negotiate between the ways in which users perceive an incident and the formats that the city’s organization can process and act upon. Currently, there is no default taxonomy for Open311-based incident reporting systems, and each city has a different understanding of what set of incident categories are needed depending on the specifics of the city, the organizational structure of city departments, or historical contingencies. In this project, Professor Dietmar Offenhuber uses probabilistic topic models to identify recurring themes in over 70,000 incident reports submitted by citizens in Boston and investigates how their salient themes correspond to the categorizations offered by the interface. The project addresses the central role of design and calls for critical scrutiny of interfaces used in mediated governance and their effects the interaction between the individual and the city.

Principle Investigator
Dietmar Offenhuber

Publications and Presentations

Offenhuber, Dietmar. “Maps of Daesh: The Cartographic Warfare Surrounding Insurgent Statehood.” GeoHumanities, 2017.

Offenhuber, Dietmar. Waste is Information. MIT Press, 2017.

Offenhuber, Dietmar and Katja Schechtner. “Improstructure – an improvisational perspective on infrastructure governance.” Cities, 2018.