Selected Readings on Policy Informatics

December 07, 2016 by Erik Johnston


Policy informatics is the transdisciplinary study and application of how computation and communication technology leverages information to better understand and address complex public policy and administration problems and realize innovations in governance processes and institutions. Rapid advancements in information, computation, and communication technology continue to proliferate society and become increasingly embedded in our everyday activities, transforming how we learn, communicate, coordinate, organize, produce, consume, and govern. As the world becomes increasingly complex, interconnected, dynamic, and resource-constrained, so do the public issues with which we must grapple. In an information-intensive governance environment, advancements in information, computation, and communication technology afford us the possibility to better tackle complex public issues in new and innovative ways that tap into and reflect the reality of this world. In particular, this involves liberating data, cultivating the bottom-up generation of data and ideas, modeling and simulating system dynamics of coupled human-environmental interactions, as well as engaging, educating, and empowering public officials, future researchers, and the public-at-large to interact with data and one another in a manner that collectively produces meaningful insights, solutions, and actions to address public issues.

The following reading materials are useful for scholars and practitioners to understand policy informatics theoretically and practically and to apply it in diverse social and policy contexts. Most of the readings were selected because in addition to a theoretical contribution, they regularly are situated in useful applications across many contexts including health, education, and the environment. The readings range from motivating the urgency behind a formal study of policy informatics, to highlighting advances in analytics including simulation and computational analytics, to design recommendations of the open organizational implications of a increasingly connected public through crowdsourcing, participatory platforms, and citizen science, to emerging ethical considerations including the digitally invisible and algorithmic biases.