New 2024 project on researching usability and use cases around the community network PubHubs 

CivicIxD, in collaboration with HvA – Communication & Multimedia Design and HvA Communicatie + Creative Business, will begin researching usability and use cases around PubHubs in 2024. 

PubHubs is a community network based on public values. Public organizations are looking for ways to responsibly use digital media to facilitate communication between and with their members. For now, they often use social media platforms like Facebook, even though they do not support the way such platforms deal with privacy and other public values. The goal of PubHubs is to design a new network that allows public organizations and their members to communicate with each other so that they do not have to use the services of commercial social media platforms such as Facebook or X. 

To that end, PubHubs provides participating organizations with an online environment (“Hub”) for moderated conversation and trusted information exchange combined with tools for digital identity management.
In recent months, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences has held several discussions with stakeholders at PubHubs, Public Spaces, and the City of Amsterdam. Those conversations revealed that PubHubs needs research in the areas of interface design and user testing to help take the project to the next phase. Public values such as privacy and ease of use are at odds. How to do justice to both values in the design of an interface for PubHubs is the question at the center of the usability research. The interviews also revealed that municipalities endorse the goal of PubHubs and see opportunities to use PubHubs to realize their ambitions in terms of public value-driven digitization. But at the same time, public organizations are still struggling to imagine what that might look like in practice. The second part of this research project will focus on use cases, and our goal is to work with stakeholders from the City of Amsterdam to develop several use cases in a series of ‘demonstrators’ that show how PubHubs can be deployed in practice.

The ‘Pubhubs: towards a public digital infrastructure’ research project is made possible by the SIDN fonds.

Job Alert

We are still seeking an enthusiastic teacher-researcher who wants to contribute to the usability research. If interested, please send an email to j.r.karskens[at]