Our topic was assigned to how to make the city smarter. Through the initial research, we found out social interaction plays a significant role in city’s development. More importantly, there is an emerging phenomenon that the evolution of technologies which contribute to the smart city can potentially lead to weak social interaction. So our initial focus landed on making cities smarter through enhancing social interaction among citizens.
We dived into the factors that affecting social interaction among individuals. The further research showed the city environment is stressful for its citizens, potentially causing behavior change, and higher rates of mental illness have been observed in city dwellers. Furthermore, those factors would have amplified their effect on 5.5% of the population in the U.S. who work in night shift schedules. We decided to target at this under-investigated population, night-shift workers, which would be more challenging for us but the design solution could be inclusive and extended to a larger population. To get a deeper understanding of the social interaction issues that atypical workers facing, we planned to collect the insight of our target group.
How to get insights from the target group innocuously and sufficiently?
We realized the traditional way of on-street survey has less response rate and less detailed responses. So we decided to built an attractive robot-like survey box in the public space, in order to collect responses from people more innocuously and anonymously.
We placed the box outside of two entrances of the Capitol Hill light rail station, which are considered to have enough people passing by. We set the box from 7am-10am and 8pm-12am to fit the time schedule for most of the night-shift workers.
The box includes pens, plenty of blank cards which allows people to share their thoughts freely and sufficiently without any constraints.
We also prepared cards with fun facts as an incentive for people.