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In this two weeks long seminar, Imagining Tomorrow 2018, I had the opportunity to collaborate with students from Dutch and German universities to serve our client, the government of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Through intercultural collaboration and multidisciplinary skillset, we designed a Citizen Science Project including changes in urban planning to improve public health. I was awarded the travel scholarship by my college to participate in this international seminar in the Netherlands as a part of SAIC's scholars program.
Karishma Dotia: Design Direction, Product Design, Copywriting, Research
Rianne Schieving: 3D Modeling, Branding, Secondary Research
Juilee Tembhekar: Illustrations, storyboarding, Campaign Design
Jordi Verrijdt: Graphic Design, Service Design, Photography, Branding
Julia Wutzler: Secondary Research, Photography, Brainstorming
Provincie Utrecht (client)
Hogeschool Voor de Kunsten Utrecht
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Karlshochschule International University
Left to right: Julia Wutzler, Juilee Tembhekar, Karishma Dotia, Rianne Schieving, Jordi Verrijdt
How might we design a Citizen Science project on health and well- being in the province of Utrecht that improves community health?
*Citizen Science is scientific work undertaken by members of the general public (non-scientists), often in collaboration with or under the direction of scientific institutions and governmental organizations
How might we map health data for neighborhoods with the help of the inhabitants of the province of Utrecht?
Cigarette Butts Here,
Cigarette Butts There,
Cigarette Butts Everywhere!
The butts are non-biodegradable, contain carcinogens, and increase plastic pollution affecting water systems, soil, animal life and thus human life in Utrecht.
Our team observed that the problem of Cigarette Butt pollution is a universal one. Based on my initial research on Cigarette Butt pollution and a prototype to the solution developed in a former independent project in Chicago (view project), we further explored the solution in global context.
We envisioned an enhanced prototype that can gather data through sensors to calculate the number of cigarettes disposed in each neighborhood.
Our specialized Cigarette Butt receptacle and data collection system works to achieve two goals - improving public health by improving physical environment, and scientific data collection to implement better policies towards improving health.
Interactive features like light illumination to encourage people to use the receptacles instead of throwing butts on the ground.
Other variations could include features such as holograms that display positive messages like ‘Thank You for keeping the Butts off the streets’, or funny ones like ‘Don’t be an asshole, put it in the Butt Hole.'
This system could also dispense mint and nicotine patches after one cigarette is disposed to encourage people to quit smoking and using the nicotine patch until they have to light another cigarette.
Differently designed receptacles according to different demographics of people in different places.
For example, at a touristy spot, the interactive receptacle would be transparent that would help in increasing awareness about how smoking and waste related to smoking is a problem. While in a residential area, where there are a lot of young children, the interactive receptacles can be opaque.
What data are we collecting?
When people dispose cigarettes into the receptacle, the sensor tallies the number of cigarettes in the receptacle and gives real time updates in the data collection system. It can give daily, weekly and monthly estimates of how many cigarettes a particular area collects.
What can we do with the data?
These estimates would then help the government in calculating which areas have more smokers than the others, and through this data we can find more solutions to improve the environmental conditions of that area. For example, we could calculate if more trees are needed in the spatial planning to counterbalance the air pollution in that area.
After the first 3- 6 months of installation, these estimates will also give us an idea of how many more receptacles are needed in the second round of installation.
How would this benefit the citizens?
With this data collection, our main focus is aimed at improving the physical health and environment by actively involving citizens rather than starting a passive anti-smoking campaign.
Healthy environment promotes positive physical health. Through changing physical environment, we are also contributing to mental health, where people can encourage each other to bring in a change, and spread awareness about smoking culture and environmental impacts associated with it.
This data would also be visible to citizens of Utrecht on a website (www.nomorebutts.org) to track the progress in the improvement of their environment.
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