Community Slate

A platform for city planners to inform neighborhoods about development projects and gain feedback throughout a project timeline.

Selected for Microsoft Design Expo 2013
Core77 Design Awards Student Runner Up 2013
IxDA Awards Shortlist 2014

Objective

The urban planning process lacks transparency, has a limited amount of public involvement, and is slow to utilize our current technologies. Through research we discovered that local governments want to involve the public in the decision-making process, but the current methods make it difficult to engage most of the community.

Project delays due to public opposition can increase project expenses exponentially. Creating a better dialogue between city planners and the public would reduce the cost of development and enable people to have a voice in their community.

Description

Community Slate is a system that is made up of three connected parts.

1. An informative, update-able printed development sign that connects pedestrians to a mobile website with an NFC tag.

2. A desktop website that presents and updates development information and summarizes public opinion about development projects in a neighborhood. The site allows the community to respond directly to questions posed by city planners or provide general feedback.

3. A mobile website, similar to the desktop site, that can be connected to from a mobile maps application layer that shows locations of development projects.

Value

By improving communication between local governments and the public in urban planning processes we hope that Community Slate can increase transparency, lower the barriers for participation, gather and summarize public opinion more efficiently, and allow people to see what others in their neighborhood think about development issues.

Our hope is that these factors would contribute to a more transparent, efficient planning process that could both save the city and investors money and better inform the public. Community Slate enables people to have a say in the design of their urban environment.

Process

The first phase of our process was to conduct research to better understand the problem space we were working in. We conducted multiple interviews with a design commissioner of Seattle, a design board member in a nearby neighborhood, and an urban development consultant. We also attended design review meetings for a new condo development in University District, the neighborhood around our university.

We deliberately identified the audience of our project to be city planners and the public who currently weren’t engaged in the planning process.

we began our ideation phase by creating sketches to define our design concept. We started with a broad range of ideas such as a community planning toolkit, using augmented reality to envision a project within the space, and creating “pop-up shops” to test if a new development would be a good fit for the proposed space. Through critique and further research we decided to focus on a concept where the community could provide direct feedback to the city about development projects in the context of a development site, which then became Community Slate.

From here we came to our final concept model of Community Slate, which would be comprised of a mobile site, website, and a print sign at every development. After deciding on a model, we created rough comps and wireframes for the interfaces and sign in our system. The information architecture of our desktop and mobile website was informed by a condominium design proposal document that we collected in our earlier research. During this phase we were also advised by a professor to find an appropriate case study to ground the storyline we would later create. The urban rest stop for the homeless idea came from an actual development proposal that is currently in process in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We chose this project because it provided us with both a controversial proposal and a history of possible adjustments made to similar projects that responded to public concerns. We completed our concept proposal through creating storyboards and then a short film.