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Midterm: Civic Design Challenge

Design is about creating experiences for people. When considering solutions to complex socio-technical problems, designers give special attention to the interplay of the social and physical context, information, and user behavior.  The goal of this team-based assignment is to envision a provocative, interactive, intelligent service/system that supports a goal that you define for the challenge of mobility in San Diego. 

This assignment has five deliverables due by Oct 22nd (details below):
  1. Topic research and online discussion
  2. Problem-solution statement
  3. Presentation of user research and storyboards
  4. Prototype
  5. Poster
We will form teams of 1-5 people on the second day of class. Teams will create deliverables that will serve as both the midterm assignment and as an entry into the D4SD Civic Design Challenge. All teams are invited to present a poster on Oct 25th from 6-9pm at the Design Forward community mixer at Broadway Pier.  

Deliverable details
Your midterm project requires the follow deliverables.  
  • Topic research and online discussion (by Oct 3rd):
    1. Read through all the challenge briefs and resources links.
    2. Join the Slack discussion forum for the D4SD challenge.
    3. Make at least 3 contributions of any kind (kudos to those who do more) in any of the topic channels or the general channel.  Your contributions can be any of these:
      - Post a new article or bit of information, and provide your opinion.
      - Share a new solution angle or elaborate someone else’s ideas.
      - Elaborate, build upon, question or argue against the ideas presented
      - Raising new challenges not covered already
      - Sharing a personal story about a mobility challenge
  • Problem-solution statement:
    1. Write about the problem being addressed and why it’s important to solve now. Include data to support this choice. The problem statement will be assessed based on 1) identifying and clearly articulating a real-world problem, 2) providing evidence of the problem (e.g., statistics pulled from cited sources, interview quotes with affected parties, etc.), and 3) explaining how solving the problem will affect people.  (requirement: 1000-5000 characters long)
    2. Describe your proposed solution making sure to address the key judging criteria (novelty, feasibility, and potential impact).  The solution description will be assessed based on 1) explaining the concept clearly and concisely, 2) describing how the solution is novel/creative, 3) indicating how the solution would be practical and feasible to implement, and 4) predicting the potential impact on both primary and secondary stakeholders.  (requirement: 1000-5000 characters long)
    3. Include photos as necessary
  • Presentation of user research and storyboards:
    1. Conduct various forms of user research. Good user research often relies on multiple research methods to collect, code and analyze data. For your project, you must use all of the qualitative research methods listed below. As a team, summarize the key insights you've learned about the problem and the stakeholders/users.  
      • Online Research: Find out as much as you can about your topic, including about the technologies themselves and identify the stakeholders. There is a lot of really useful information about your topic in articles published on the Internet. These include articles from various newspapers such as, periodicals such as, official news releases from various relevant companies such as and so on.  Document your online research include the resources you gather as part of the Topic Research and Discussion assignment above.
      • Field Observations: Go out into the real world and observe people. You must identify an activity and setting to observe and describe why it is relevant to your project. Observe for at least one hour. Take pictures, video (optional) and take notes on the specific behaviors you observe.
    2. Create at least three scenarios that describe problematic situations for your stakeholders and illustrate these as storyboards. Each storyboard should clearly communicate the context, the problem, the proposed solution, and a resolution.  We will share storyboards in class and get feedback on your stories and concepts. After a round of iteration, the team should get feedback from at least 3 stakeholders to help you choose and refine a single design concept. 
      • Interview at least one expert in the field you are researching.
      • Interview at least one everyday person from the population of people identified as stakeholders in your online research or from your field observations.
    3. Be ready to present your user research on Oct 12 during a critique session.
  • Prototype:
    • A prototype can be anything that makes your idea concrete and testable, such as a click-through demo, a 3D model, a service-design blueprint, an algorithm, a physical mockup, a video demo, etc. Include instructions for how to operate the prototype or what to look for when viewing the prototype. Include any evidence that the prototype works or does not work in certain scenarios to solve the problem outlined above.   Prototypes will be assessed based on:
      • providing a simple demonstration of the proposed solution,
      • explaining clearly how the solution works,
      • documenting your team's overall process and the iterative team effort put into creating a minimal viable prototype.
  • Poster:
    • Create a poster with a size of 40” tall by 30” wide in full color and adopt a design language that best represents the team's identity/concept. The poster should introduce the specific challenge your team chooses as a focus, highlight insights from user research, and introduce your novel idea for how to solve the challenge. 
    • Here’s what make a good poster:
      • Clearly introduces the challenge, user research insights, and proposed solutions
      • Follows effective visual design principles (i.e., makes use of hierarchy, images, and a grid)
      • Represents the brand identity of the team in a visually appealing way.
      • Demonstrates the rigor of your human-centered design process (i.e., include user research data such as quotes, storyboards, and other process materials.)
    • D4SD will cover the cost of printing posters for all valid submissions under the following conditions: 
      • The entry must be complete and valid as determined by the D4SD organizing team.
      • The poster must follow the guidelines and use the poster template specified here.
      • At least one team member must be able to present your poster at the Design Forward Community Mixer on Oct 25 from 6-9pm.
      • If your team is selected as a finalist, at least one team member must be available for the Design Forward Summit on Oct 26th from 7am-7pm.
Judging Criteria
Your midterm project (and entry into the Design for San Diego challenges) will be judged according to the following three criteria:
  • Human-centered process (How effectively does the team involve stakeholders, obtain feedback, and leverage data to support design decisions?)
  • Novelty (How unique is the solution compared to other available solutions?)
  • Feasibility (How likely can this solution be implemented? Will it work in the real world?)
  • Impact (How will the solution affect people? Does it have any downsides?)

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