UX and Behavior Design.
Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District reached out looking for ways to get employees and resident of Downtown active with improvement efforts MDID is a business-led non-profit working to improve 120 blocks of downtown. They are focused on greening, cleaning and making downtown safer for residents, employees and visitor
minneapolis downtown improvement district.
Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) want to leverage employees and residents of downtown to help improve the area. They don’t have any system for raising ideas and getting citizens involved in solutions.
I started my research into this problem with a review of the literature. Civic engagement is a very dense subject with a lot of moving parts. People spend their lives devoted to improving their cities, and it would have been arrogant not to leverage their insights.
Modern civic engagement is starting to revolve around using technology to improve a city. There is a ton of data released through Open City data resources with the hope that citizens can go in a research traffic times, for example, and create an improve stop light timing.
People are coming up with solutions like that. They are also discovering some of the waste that exists in government and some public servants resistance to change.
The distrust of government to be active and move into the digital plain where its citizen lives are evident.
The DID form under these restrictions, and have been operating within the increasing realm of private-public partnerships.
Although business-facing until this point, DID is seeing that they can’t change every problem by throwing money at it. Getting citizens involved is the next step for returning downtown MSP to a vibrate hub.
DID is looking for the way to generate public projects and manage volunteers.
My first inspiration for solutions can from working in Germany where researcher where using geofencing to alert participants of engagement opportunities in their spatial area. Being near the problem is a key to getting people involved.
Mobile phones were also an important factor to informing people. ____% people report getting their news from _____. This sentiment was echoed by my participant who didn’t want to be informed by people on the street but through their mobile phone.
I wanted to start a campaign to start generating bottom-up innovation through geo-fenced mobile alerts and short survey.
But no one can volunteer for an organization they don’t know exist.
Most people didn’t know who the DID were and thought their ambassadors were city workers. Citizen need to trust the DID before they will volunteer and they can’t trust, and organization they don’t know exists.The plan had to be backed-up to start gaining public awareness of DID.
I want to use Beacon technology to bring citizen to websites informing them about the DID and alert them of projects when they are near potential opportunities nearby.
Beacons are small devices that emit a Bluetooth ID. Beacons are as small as a bottle cap and can be placed inside or out. The Bluetooth ID is picked up by smartphones and sent to a server. The server checks the ID. The ID is tied to an URL which is sent back to the phone.
The use of URLs makes this very versatile. It can link to a static web page or activate a more complicated action in a native mobile app.
The campaign would start by releasing small news bits about issues happening around downtown. Activities like updates around Nicollet construction project generate a lot of interest from the public. The DID could connect the beacon to a filter version of their Twitter feed or link to the cities of Minneapolis page on the Nicollet Mall. Showing off fun things that happen in the downtown. The goal of this step to start gaining the public's trust. If there is no trust, there will be no participation from the public.
Next, DID will start to lease small "asks" like polls about art projects nearby. Small things start to get people involved in your cause and getting people involved the hardest part.
This step is a good point to connect to other groups in downtown. DID can cross prompt, and they will have places to start directing people who want to be involved downtown. When people do give opinions, results should be seen very quickly. Using the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper method of placemaking would be very efficient for pop-up markets or entertainment space.
The final step is to increase the ask and get people to show up to things in person. These events could be community planning meeting or block. They should focus on community build. This step is where the bottom-up crowdsourced idea would start to get produced. DID might work at starting the conversation but then quickly get out of the way providing support when needed. Letting people produce their own solution means people will be able to create solutions that use their own skills.