CrowdChange is a concept for a ubicomp system where citizens can improve their community by finding causes aligned with their interests and propose opportunities for local special interest projects.
Design a ubiquitous computing system to increase dialog in local government. How can we bring technology into a lobby that supports and encourages citizens to engage in defining what their city should be?
Our approach was to survey broadly to understand how people of different backgrounds and interest in government and how this affects their attitudes towards local government. We interviewed people from across the spectrum in political involvement, from apathetic citizens to reporters for political think-tanks. We found that the people we interviewed, including informed citizens, feel like they cannot easily make an impact on government nor do the current issues directly affect them. One interviewee stated:
I think a lot of the issues don’t directly affect me, so I don’t really pay attention. I feel like I’m up to date on the issues that affect me.
Synthesis and Concept Generation
To organize our research data, we created an affinity diagram from comments and insights raised by the interviewees and survey respondents. We saw some emergent themes such as feeling informed about politics or disconnected to institutions. We decided to focus on engaging local citizens by finding opportunities and causes that are aligned with their interests and encouraging them to take action to improve their community.
As a springboard for ideation we generated over 50 ideas around the following “How Might We” statements:
How might we suggest courses of action citizens can take?
How might we make people aware of the positive things their government does?
How might we create a way for people to express opinions that fits conveniently into their routine?
Some of our more provocative ideas included such as gamifying local political involvement with a fantasy sports version of city council or a virtual pet that is kept alive when you read the news. Coming up with the improbable ideas help push the boundaries of our brainstorming and aspects of it were useful in generating additional ideas.
To start to concretely give form to some of our ideas, we chose 10 ideas to turn into storyboards illustrating a use case or need. We ran two “speed dating” sessions where we showed these storyboards to a broad group of users, including our original interviewees, to get their feedback on feasibility and extensibility of concepts. After the first round, we iterated on our storyboards and winnowed down. Speed dating gave us diverse feedback that helped shape the final direction of our idea.
Users reacted most positively to ideas surrounding crowdfunding of public works and being able to see one’s impact on government. We merged similar scenarios and uses from different storyboards to create a unified vision: CrowdChange. Our ubiquitous computing system is designed to encourage citizens to improve their local community and help them see the impact of their taxes at work. Citizens would be able to allocate a certain portion of their tax dollars set aside for special interest projects.
For our final deliverable, we created a concept video sketch highlighting a few use cases of our system.
I conducted interviews with a local reporter and think-tank reporter and reported results to my team. We worked collaboratively in brainstorming and ideation. I came up with three storyboards and ran speed dating sessions.
We worked as a team to come up with the script for the video sketch and stage the photoshoot. I edited the video in iMovie.
Needfinding and Validation Interviews