In Pursuit of the Effective Neighborhood Information System: User-friendliness and Training

Journal Article by Sungsoo Hwang, Mark C. Hoffman

University Center for Social and Urban Research   (Pittsburgh)

The goal of this research is to address the effectiveness of Neighborhood Information Systems (NIS) as an Information Technology (IT) tool in assisting community development. NISs are hybrid applications of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and web technologies that provide demographic, social, and economic information to community stakeholders. Government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community organizations engage in decision-making process for community development, and NISs are designed to help information-sharing and effective and participatory decision-makings for community development stakeholders. This study finds that NISs have been successful in developing user-friendly features but can improve their effectiveness by providing training to the community users. While it is important to craft user-friendly NISs, it is more important to understand user needs and provide task-specific training to make NISs more effective. Additional findings of this research support the proposition that NISs promote data-sharing and empowerment among community stakeholders and is used in the decision-making process.