As a vast aggregate of urban data can be easily measured and collected, data-driven nudging is being implemented in many urban infrastructures to prompt desirable citizen behaviors. Unlike regular nudging, with data-driven nudging citizen behaviors can be more elaborately yet unknowingly steered and optimized using predictive algorithms.
Through literature research, were identified and utilized as a conceptual framework for the design.
Goal 1: To create tangible experience of an alternative future conveying the key attributes of data-driven nudging and its mechanisms
Goal 2: To evoke critical awareness and trigger open discussions about data-driven nudging and its potential social implications
Goal 3: To investigate how citizens vision the future city they want to live in and what are their needs/concerns for the implementation of data-driven nudging
I chose Speculative and Critical Design (SCD) as a main approach because immersing citizens into an experiential future scenario seemed relevant to achieve the design goals. The entire process took a double-diamond structure, utilizing Research through Design (RtD) methodology.
Through brainstorming sessions, a narrative context of a public bench was selected considering its simplicity, technical feasibility, and near future likelihood. The iterative user testing refined the bench concept to provide a double-sided interactive experience with several plausible yet provoking data points detecting citizens’ personal characteristics.
Based on a storyboard, the Smart Bench’s interactive nudging system was established and its compatible digital interface was developed.
The Smart Bench Experience consists of a semi-Wizard-of-Ozed Smart Bench and an interface presented on an iPad.
Sensors attached to the bench detect users’ personal characteristics such as BMI, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. The bench’s fictional algorithmic system uses these data to determine whether they are likely to be good citizens or not. Based on this, it can either let the users stay or nudge them away by deploying alerts. Startled users, wondering what just happened, would be guided to the iPad interface. Here, they can become “the nudger”, influencing other citizens. They can learn about the bench’s nudging mechanisms, adjust and update the algorithmic variables themselves to protect urban values like public health, neighbourhood pleasantness, and safety.
Qualitative analysis confirmed a fruitful capacity of design futuring in materializing an abstract concept that has yet to arrive, evoking critical awareness, and involving laymen citizens into the urban design process.
I am a UX designer and researcher from Seoul, South Korea. I create interfaces and experiences focusing on sustainable human-technology relationships. Holding flexible yet critical attitude towards new technologies, I am interested in involving actual users into the design process.