Posts tagged "projects we love"

Softwalks: Improving the Pedestrian Experience in NYC

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New York City is covered with “sidewalk sheds” — the unsightly scaffolding that protects pedestrians from falling debris from constructions sites. Most sidewalk sheds are up anywhere from 6 months to 2 years and many are not even active construction sites.

The folks from Softwalks have put together a kit of parts that can transform these inactive sites into functional public places that foster interaction, conversation, and pedestrian-friendliness in general. The kit includes a planter, chair, and a counter.

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The team is currently working on piloting this kit in hopes that they can collaborate with NYC Business Improvement Districts to implement the project throughout the city in the future.

How does this project make the world a better place?
“Placemaking and re-imagining urban landscapes are important to consider as more and more people move into cities worldwide. Did you know by 2050, over 80% of the world’s population will live in cities? This is one step for Softwalks, as we will continue to work on designing amenities and interventions to make urban centers lively and social.” - The Softwalks team

Who is the intended audience?
Visitors and residents of NYC — and according to Softwalks, eventually people in other cities around the world.

How can our audience extend the impact of this work?
This is a great lesson in rethinking the use of public spaces and creating more people-centered cities. Sidewalk sheds are eyesores — and they are a constant in any New Yorker’s life. How can you improve something that you encounter every day?


submitted by: laurenbaier

Nametag Day: Sparking Spontaneous Connections in NYC

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"What good is sharing a city like New York with millions of other people if you can’t connect with them? On most days of the year, you pass by your fellow pedestrians without noticing them."

On June 1st, all that will (hopefully) change. Thanks to a grant from the Awesome Foundation (a worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe), Nametag Day will seek to break down barriers and connect people all across NYC. The folks behind the event hope to distribute 200,000 nametags throughout the city — sparking new friendships and shared experiences.

How does this project make the world a better place?
“All too often, we can forget to notice the people around us. Nametag Day aims to break this barrier and strengthen the human element of the New York experience, adding a bit of spontaneity and silliness to people’s day.”

Who is the intended audience?
Anyone who lives in NYC or will be visiting on June 1st!

How can our audience extend the impact of this work?
Nametag day is seeking any help that people are willing to provide. If you have experience with event planning or volunteer coordination or want to volunteer to hand out nametags, head to their site! If you are not in New York and want to help, you can donate to their project and of course spread the word!


submitted by: laurenbaier

Flocksourcing: Using “Flocks” + Mobile Phones to Create the First Bus Map of Dhaka

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Urban Launchpad, a “social-venture dedicated to building open urban info-structures in places around the world that need it most” recently received funding through Kickstarter to create the first bus map of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Millions of people ride the bus everyday in Dhaka — but there is no formal public bus system. Riders use an informal network of privately operated independent services. There are very few bus stops and no explanatory signage. Riders must jump on and off the bus while it is moving — all while avoiding the chaotically crowded streets which are full of people, cars, and rickshaws.

Urban Launchpad’s goal is to maintain a low rate of car use in Dhaka (currently at 1%) and they hope to accomplish this by improving the bus system. They believe that information can be “a powerful catalyst for improving service in general” and so the first step towards improvement is to provide information about buses to riders.

They teamed up with Kewkradong to collect data about the buses. Using smartphones, they tracked 270 buses on two lines. They also surveyed 1000 people. They were able to collect data on routes, travel times, crowd levels, as well as information about riders and what makes them happy. This was just a pilot. The goal of the Kickstarter campaign (which was a success!) was to raise money to scale up the pilot to cover the entire network of buses in Dhaka and use the data to create something useful for riders.

Urban Launchpad will be creating paper maps (printed locally in Dhaka) that are pocket-sized for individuals as well as larger formats to be posted in public gathering spaces. However, these pieces are just the beginning — the team hopes to use the data they collect to create bus stop signs and bus tracking apps. This model also has the potential to be implemented in other cities around the world.

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How does this project make the world a better place?
Urban Launchpad is taking initiative to provide a service not currently provided by the government or the private bus operators. But more importantly, they are providing this much-needed service in a format that makes sense for its users. Their initial pilot survey determined that few riders use smartphones, so they decided to create and distribute a paper map first.

Also, all the data that is collected will be openly available for anyone to “mash-up and visualize into other important insights for bus riders, operators and the city.”

Who is the intended audience?
The 5,000,000+ riders of buses in Dhaka

How can our audience extend the impact of this work?
There is a lot of talk about using data to make the world a better place, but not much talk about how to gather or generate the data in the first place. We often wait for government agencies to release data, as these institutions are often seen as the arbiters of information when it comes to data about our cities. This project should inspire all of us to think about ways in which we can generate the data we need, instead of waiting for a large institution to provide it to us. In this case the project developers used the concept of “flocksourcing,” whereby large groups of people with mobile phones can generate extremely useful urban data that can be turned into useful tools for city denizens. 

 

Video and images from Kickstarter


submitted by: laurenbaier

Accent theme by Handsome Code



BYO projects is a collection of projects curated by Yasmin Fodil and Lauren Baier and submitted by you!

We showcase projects that make the world a better place through creative problem solving, experience design, technology, and community engagement.

All submitted projects are considered for our Projects We Love page, where we highlight exemplary work in these fields.


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