The new Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University is studying ways to get more people involved in local government, and is looking at how technology can further that goal.

"What we're trying to do is figure out what is the best use of technology in government," said Justin Longo, who works in the center.

The study is funded with a $5 million grant for three years of study. Researchers will focus on three areas, Longo said:

  • How can government incorporate subject-area expertise?
  • How can the vast amounts of government data be used by the public?
  • How can government attract more public involvement?

The study will focus on technology, he said.

"The internet has given us more arguing but not necessary better arguing," Longo said. "One of our objectives in this research project is how do we get better arguing?"

"Academics is not going to sit back and wait for governance to change itself," said Erik Johnston, director of the Center for Policy Informatics. Therefore, researchers are going to look for examples of using technology improve government.