Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prototyping Sidewalk Civic Engagement

One last project to share from the Interaction Design Studio I co-taught at the CCA. 

This team, Casey Kawahara, Tanya Siadneva, Bogart Bockman, and Elizabeth Ibarra developed a provocative project for leveraging digital prototyping and tactical urbanism to enable civic engagement. 

What if people could give feedback or input on the future design of a space they frequently occupy, and give that feedback with almost no effort?

While it's not the most scientific way of collecting community input, as a prototype I find this to be a provocative solution to allowing people conveniently share their perspective. In a city like San Francisco where the process of change can be long and drawn out, a lot could be changed about how the community participates in redevelopment. And this project really begs the question: Are we collecting feedback from everyone who is impacted? Often only the most vocal opinions are heard, those who have such a strong interest that they can take time out of their schedule to attend hearings and form action groups. What about the opinion of everyone else?

Early in the project, disappointed with some early prototypes they deployed in some empty newspaper boxes, the team decided to pivot to a location where pedestrians would confront their prototype as they were walking by, right in the middle of sidewalk. 

The next prototype was a set of steps divided by a railing where one side of the steps had an Android sign, the other had an Apple sign. Sure enough, people were changing their course to make sure they were voting correctly with their choice of steps even though the vote had no real significance what so ever! From there the team continued refine the form factor of the method of input, eventually adding in digital components to activate it. 

The final design and video demo speak for themselves, this prototype definitely invites people to engage and share their opinion as they continue on their way. 


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