Last weekend Hack Red Hook 2016 brought together designers, engineers, coders, community planners, and inventors to design, create and install useful and interactive objects around the Red Hook neighborhood. The civic minded hackathon was an opportunity to use ingenuity and creativity to give life to new ideas and build creative solutions for an under-served community.
The multidisciplinary team behind “KIOSK+” took home 2nd place overall for a participatory and informational proposal. Inspired by a long time resident’s suggestion for a kiosk that could improve information exchange across Red Hook, the team, with backgrounds in coding, architecture and business, worked with the resources available in order to develop an initial concept and full scale working mock-up.
By Saturday morning after taking an impromptu neighborhood tour with local residents and learning more about existing initiatives to better map community resources, the team set out to work.
The hardware hack involved the creation of a secure community polling interface that allows residents to authenticate themselves via cell phone while providing anonymous information to elected officials and community leaders. The goal was to provide a public, more readily available channel for residents to give their voice on a range of local issues. For instance how might such a tool assist participatory budgeting, the democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget?
Initial concepts for the informational and spatial presence of the kiosk were also developed. With the help of community advocate John Kirbow, the team was able to explore how methods of asset based community development and participatory mapping could inform how the proposal might capture not only the needs, issues and concerns of local residents but also their skills, aspirations and hopes.
The 80 square foot design features four flexible bays that house expandable “community resource modules”. The intersection of these modules, when deployed by partner organizations (e.g. schools, youth, business, neighborhood) are meant to augment digital information collection and increase participation and collaboration among diverse members of the community.
Unfolding information panels provide an opportunity for residents to participate in a mapping of local community assets. The adjacency of school and business resource modules could facilitate conversations surrounding youth skills training. The polling site encourages discussion around local issues. Within the Red Hook community, the deployment of the kiosk operates as another kind of public space –both digital and physical — that encourages passerby’s to engage in a wider ‘knowledge and ideas platform’ with the hopes of driving proposals from residents themselves or from organizations within the community for creating community-driven, resident-led social impact.
Thanks to Pioneer Works for organizing a fantastic event. Special thanks to fellow hackers Lisander Lopez, Song Chen and Andres Villa as well as Karen Blondel and John Kirbow for their active support throughout the weekend!