Empower Collective Action
Rallying neighbors to create long-term impact on street corners through
a collaborative mapping platform.
The “Rise of Collaborative Consumption”
As cities slowly acknowledge increased environmental and infrastructural strains, there is a distinct group of committed individuals, startups, and non-profits finding inventive ways to share their time, energy, and resources. Rachel Bostman and Roo Rodgers call this movement “Collaborative Consumption” (2010). Communities such as ZipCar, Couch Surfing, Khan Academy, and Neighborhood meal-shares are just a few examples that exemplify this sustainable ethos.
Envisioning new sharing communities
Each of these Collaborative Consumption communities are driven by inventive social structures and dynamic digital platforms. Our graduate studio, under the direction of PhD Associate Professor Amber Howard, identified opportunities for four new types of sustainable sharing communities. Through preliminary research, brainstorming and rough prototyping we worked in teams to discover viable, future sharing scenarios. Each scenario demonstrates the long-range impact on important global issues such as alleviating infrastructural stress, preventing obesity, creating flexible urban density, and responsive healthcare systems. Each scenario is presented in a video sketch that embodies the characteristics of the sharing movement such as:
|» Critical Mass *
» Idling Capacity *
» Belief in the Commons *
» Trust Between Strangers *
|» Peer to Peer Technology
» Resurgence of Community
» Environmental Concerns
» Cost Consciousness
Botsman, Rachel, and Roo Rogers. What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. New York: Harper Business, 2010.
* (Bostman and Rogers, 2010 p.xvi)
My design team identified a handful of ideas for new sharing opportunities through the following steps:
- Researching characteristics of existing sharing communities
- Conducting trend research to identify global trends
- Identifying possible design leverage points
- Generating three iterative rounds of brainstorms
As a result of our research, we chose to develop an “Infrastructure Feedback System” in which citizens can improve their neighborhood through a collaborative mapping tool. Many cities are built upon a physical infrastructure that is unmaintained, underused, and unsafe. Each city has street corners that need revitalization. We believe that it is within the power of the people, to make those changes happen.
As the project developed, our team began to recognize the difficulty in citizens improving large infrastructural systems such as water, electricity, streets, and bridges. However, we feel confident that there are other elements within those systems such as shade, street lights, park benches, vacant lots, and street corners which would bring manageable and valuable neighborhood change. With that thought we proposed a sharing platform. The platform aids neighborhood development through a locative collaborative mapping. It connects neighbors to neighbors, neighbors to street corners, and citizens to city officials.
|Create an outlet for people who have concerns about the infrastructural problems in their neighborhood.||The proposed platform allows citizens to share concerns and rally for neighborhood development. It develops collective ownership through crowdsourced tagging and commenting on a neighborhood map. It invites neighbors to interact individually by mapping in order to guide them into productive face-to-face meetings.|
|Create a tool that can be flexible enough to deal with multiple neighborhood revitalization projects, but constrained enough to focus efforts towards real needs within the community.||The platform manages project roadblocks by guiding a neighborhood problem through a series of phases which engage member participation. These phases include: reporting, campaigning, authorization, and approved action.|
|Create a sharing community which can not only grow over time but also grow in scale.||Through locative technology, the interface directs a citizen's attention to their surrounding area. Zooming out from that area gives them a bigger picture of their city in order to promote awareness of other communities in need. In order to invite citizens to spread their impact, the platform suggests user-generated problems and projects throughout the city.|
|Create a tool that fosters transparency among members of the sharing community||The platform involves many stakeholders in the revitalization project at key points within the improvement process. Most notably, the platform supports cooperation between the citizen reporters and city inspectors. The platform also sets up checks and balances within the community. For example, citizens can deal with duplicate reports or negative nagging reports through flagging.|
Below is a list of a few of the methods used during this project and how they informed the research and design:
Affinity Diagramming is a brainstorming and card sorting exercise that is used to discover relationships within large amounts of data. This method is a great kick-starter exercise for a group because it lets each member get in tune with the content by “brain-dumping” all ideas onto sticky notes and provides each member equal access to contribution. Using this method early within our process helped the team discover characteristics of sharing communities.
Similar to long-range forecasting, futurecasting combines contextual research such as trend research and creative brainstorming in order to identify possible future scenarios or new opportunities. After researching global trends and gathering information about existing sharing communities or services our team brainstormed examples of future sharing communities by considering the following prompt:
In order to discover innovative ways that people can share, generate ideas on how to:
|» Differentiate from Current Strategies
» Respond to Demand
» Supplement an Inefficiency
» Design for Personal impact
|» Appropriate (from another context)
» Throw in a Wild Card
» Go Long (consider long-term impact)
Similar to sketching with a pad and paper, video sketching is a way to quickly externalize an idea. It takes the form of time-based-media and allows experimentation through storytelling and rough prototyping. Our team created four iterative rounds of video sketches in order to develop the neighborhood revitalization platform and scenario of use. Each round helped us clarify the visual language of our platform as well as the identity, motivations and behaviors of the sharing community.
This project included two phases that our studio called Contextualizing and Futurecasting.
In the first phase we tried to understand sharing communities, global trends, and the role of design to affect global trends. We did this through affinity diagramming, trend research, breaking down of leverage points, and sharing our research findings through studio-wide presentations.
In the second phase we identify new sharing communities that addressed relevant global issues that we identified in our preliminary research. We did this through affinity diagrams, radial diagrams, brainstorming sessions (see google docs), 5-10 year timeline, storyboarding, storytelling documents, sharing norms/values/identity development, story plotter matrix, video sketching, etc.
Example of an early Video Sketch Prototypes
Google Doc Futurecasting Brainstorm
First Brainstorm / Initial Futurecasting
Second Brainstorm / Futurecasting development and projecting the ideas over time
Third Brainstorm / Three concepts fleshed out
Fourth Brainstorm / One concept developed through a storyline
One example of storyboard Development / Quick Sketch with Characters
Other Teams Final Solutions
Each member of the studio worked within a 3-4 person team to identify and develop future sharing communities. Here are some of the other communities the other teams came up with: