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Abstract

In this article we introduce policy informatics as an emerging research space. Policy informatics is the study of how information systems are leveraged toward solving complex public policy problems. When used to increase participation, leveraging information systems includes: (1) platforms for the public to participate and engage in policy processes and with public agencies; (2) public agencies to utilize technologies to take advantage of information reservoirs for evidence-driven policy design; and (3) public agencies to be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Presented in this article is one illustrative application of policy informatics—human-centered participatory platforms. When individuals and groups seek to collaborate to resolve policy issues, competing interests and adversarial positions on issues as well as an unawareness of the others’ perspectives often result in poor outcomes. Generating and disseminating feelings of empathy among members in these networks is crucial for mitigating conflicts. However, empathy generation and transfer is a complex challenge that requires systematic research within the design of participatory platforms. A thoughtful application of information systems (IS) can help bring diverse stakeholders together and promote cooperation by facilitating richer communication channels and timely feedback to generate a sense of shared community to pursue shared goals.

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