Designing for Human Values in a Urban Simulation System: Value Sensitive Design and Participatory design

  • Alan Borning
  • Batya Friedman
  • Peter H. Kahn, Jr.
Keywords: Value Sensitive Design, Participatory Design, design methods, ethics, human values, urban simulation, UrbanSim


UrbanSim is a large-scale simulation system that models the development of urban areas over periods of 20 or more years. Its purpose is to help citizens and local governments make more informed decisions about major transportation and land use issues, by projecting the long-term consequences of the different alternatives. Citizens often bring strongly held values to such decisions, for example regarding equity, sustainability, environmental protection, economic expansion, or property rights, and the decisions are often politically charged. To help shape the design of UrbanSim to better support the democratic process, as well as to be responsive to the values held by different stakeholders and the conflicts among them, we are using value Sensitive Design, a theoretically grounded approach to the design of technology that seeks to account for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner throughout the design process. Participatory Design also has a good deal to say about these issues. Thus, in this paper, we first describe UrbanSim and value Sensitive Design, and provide a snapshot of our ongoing work in this area. We then use the UrbanSim work as an example to bring out key commonalities and differences between value Sensitive Design and Participatory Design, and to motivate some preliminary ideas about ways in which each methodology could evolve based on techniques and concepts from the other.
Short Papers - Session 3: Ideas/Theory