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Emerging Issues Commons

Government, Public Service

Since 2002, the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) has worked to bring North Carolina’s citizens together to turn ideas into action. The institute specializes in facilitating face-to-face communication and wanted to extend this impact using digital tools. Second Story, an interactive studio based in Portland, Oregon, worked with the institute for two and a half years to build the Emerging Issues Commons, an interactive exhibit at North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library, as well as a complementary web portal. The project educates North Carolinians about four of the state’s core concerns­—Education, Environment, Economy and Health—and empowers them to collaborate on these issues. Website content is structured to replicate the experience of the physical Commons for online visitors, and allows a global audience to understand and participate in the progressive action happening in North Carolina.

In the Ideas area of the website, visitors can educate themselves about challenges facing the state, review, comment on and rank other users’ proposed solutions and present ideas of their own. The Voices section hosts over 30 short films about everyday North Carolinians working together to meet the state’s challenges. The Connections area focuses on data, displaying everything from life expectancy rates to educational statistics through artful visualizations. The Actions section lets users select compelling solutions, see the steps IEI suggests to implement them, connect with other users who are involved and leave updates about their contributions. News and social media are integrated directly into the homepage, so the content stays fresh and up-to-date. The design aesthetic was inspired by North Carolina’s diverse population, landscape, industry and culture. Bright, bold colors combine and transform to express shifting viewpoints on public policy issues, and playful animation makes heavy content feel approachable and engaging.