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Supporting Collaborative Political Decision Making: An Interactive Policy Process Visualization System

December 07, 2016 by Tobias Ruppert, Andreas Bannach, Jürgen Bernard, Hendrik Lücke-Tieke, Alex Ulmer, Jörn Kohlhammer

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The process of political decision making is often complex and tedious. The policy process consists of multiple steps, most of them are highly iterative. In addition, different stakeholder groups are involved in political decision making and contribute to the process. A series of textual documents accompanies the process. Examples are official documents, discussions, scientific reports, external reviews, newspaper articles, or economic white papers. Experts from the political domain report that this plethora of textual documents often exceeds their ability to keep track of the entire policy process. We present PolicyLine, a visualization system that supports different stakeholder groups in overview-and-detail tasks for large sets of textual documents in the political decision making process. In a longitudinal design study conducted together with domain experts in political decision making, we identified missing analytical functionality on the basis of a problem and domain characterization. In an iterative design phase, we created PolicyLine in close collaboration with the domain experts. Finally, we present the results of three evaluation rounds, and reflect on our collaborative visualization system.