Air quality, creative folks, ideation and Louisville, Kentucky

Urban Matter Inc was in Louisville, Kentucky for a workshop and ideation session with the local arts and non profit organizations around communicating air quality data to the public. The workshop session was hosted and facilitated by the Office of Civic Innovation, Louisville Metro Government, and done in partnership with Creative Commons. Even though air quality has improved in Louisville in the past few years, it is still on the charts for being one of the more polluted cities in the US.  The task ahead of us is to create a data art piece that communicates information around air quality data to the locals of Louisville in a way that is engaging, effective and interactive. The workshop was an attempt to :

  • Discover concerns, issues and challenges related to the air quality data that are most important to the Louisville residents.
  • Identify entry points and opportunities to create community engagement with the installation.
  • Streamline the design direction of the data art installation and create possible scenarios, based on those discoveries.
Location mapping in downtown Louisville for potential installation sites.

Location mapping in downtown Louisville for potential installation sites.

We were fortunate to have a concerned and imaginative group of 25 at our disposal for the workshop. The exercises included identifying locations with maximum pedestrian activity in downtown Louisville, creating a user persona for that location (see image below), and making the persona go through a perilous day where it is exposed to a selected pollutant over and over again. The last bit, also the most interesting bit was to ideate a solution which could stop the persona from going through this perilous polluted day.

User Personas created by the workshop attendees

User Personas created by the workshop attendees

The workshop attendees came up with some thought provoking solutions like the ‘Particulate Neutralizer’ which is a personalized force field generated from the persona’s smart phone (see image below). The force field changes the chemical compounds of the particulate matter thereby neutralizing it and making is harmless. The other ideas included incentivizing commuters who commuted at non peak hours, a phablet that communicates with the data art installation and outputs bike lanes with least amount of air pollution.

Particulate Neutralizer Idea

Particulate Neutralizer Idea

Our hope is to create a project that creates awareness, identifies sources of pollution and propels the public to take action. The findings from the workshop allows us to take a more streamlined approach towards the data art piece in terms of design, content and overall goal and direction. The project is scheduled to go up in the next few months. We’ve identified a few locations in downtown Louisville for potential installation. More on all of that soon.