Pandemic-Driven Technology Adoption: Public Decision Makers Need to Tread Cautiously

Authors: Pamela Robinson*, Ryerson University, Peter Johnson*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: citizen engagement, public consultation, technology adoption, civic participation, COVID-19, planning,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, around the world, evidence mounted that the impacts of this virus were landing unevenly across communities. People who are elderly, economically marginalized, immune-compromised, and members of racialized and equity-seeking communities were most significantly impacted. In the summer of 2020, we explored how the use of technology by municipal governments within their COVID-19 response had the potential to impact different community members, exacerbate digital divides, and generate exclusion and surveillance issues (Robinson and Johnson, 2020). This paper seeks to update this work, taking a long view as to what kinds of citizen-focused technologies are being used by Canadian local governments within their pandemic response. This paper explores the question: how is COVID-19 related technology use impacting citizen/resident interactions with local governments? This paper will explore the extents to which citizen-city hall interactions are transactional (see Johnson et. al, 2020b) and what forms of new interactions might emerge (see Johnson et. al, 2020a), with a particular focus on whether these technology tools have the potential to further entrench existing inequities.

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