Imagine a future where cities are committed to becoming ‘listening organisations’, creating authentic conversations and two-way relationships to gather local knowledge and aspirations. Imagine a future where cities are committed to promoting active citizenship from an early age and raising awareness of what it means to take part in shaping one’s environment, fostering an empowering and inclusive approach to urban citizenship. Imagine a future where cities are committed to becoming data experts and increase citizen data literacy through innovative data storytelling and visualisation tools.

To enable citizens’ voices to be heard, this project develops and pilots an innovative suite of data processing tools that fashion a common dialogue from many disparate perspectives as part of a framework for participatory urban design. The suite of tools ‘Urban Narrative’ focusses on understanding the “why” rather than “what” people desire for future urban development and regeneration, as this enables citizens to articulate shared urban values and prioritize challenges through storytelling, leading to co-created urban design briefs (the ‘what’).

The real power of ‘Urban Narrative’ is its potential to up-scale participatory design methods. The innovative step comprises mining the large-scale personal data (text, audio, photographs) to identify common narratives based on people’s experiences rather than opinions that, in turn, can create urban design personas and led to co-creation of urban design briefs. This storytelling data can be further contextualised by referencing back to regional and national population data from Statistics NZ.