University of Notre Dame // Design Research Practices

SPARK

08.2017 - 02.2018

CITY OF SOUTH BEND

MAYOR BUTTIGIEG ADMINISTRATION

INCLUSIVE TECHNOLOGY RESOURCE CENTER

USER RESEARCH / BRANDING / USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN

The challenge

Create an Inclusive Technology Resource Center to help residents, businesses, and community centers adapt to the rapid technological advancements in the workforce and everyday life

PROBLEM BRIEFING

Technology and tech literacy are becoming increasingly important in the national economy.​ In South Bend, a post-industrial rust-belt city, there exists a deep economic divide, fueled by a digital divide between communities that make use of computers and the internet, and those who do not.

"There exists a deep digital divide, fueling economic stagnation for those on the wrong side"

MISSION STATEMENT

Technological changes in the workforce that come through technology or other disruptions will disproportionately stress low-skilled workers and vulnerable populations. The City can mitigate some of these negative impacts by creating programming that connects people with sustainable careers through workforce development, product prototyping and testing, tech literacy, and community engagement. 

Connect blue-collar residents with opportunities to grow tech literacy and create sustainable careers

VISION

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Connect disparate elements of South Bend’s emerging ‘innovation ecosystem’ in a dedicated space to create “gravity”

Provide space and resources for the wireless testbed users considering investing in the area to prototype their technology

The Inclusive Technology Resource Center (ITRC) will provide three functions:

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Engage and train the next generation of STEM workers in wireless, advanced manufacturing, coding, and workforce readiness

The team

A diverse and interdisciplinary, user-focused team; all students in Notre Dame's Design program or Collaborative Innovation minor

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Business Experts

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Designers

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Computer Scientists

INITIAL RESEARCH

To get a better understanding of how other cities were handling the challenges of the digital divide, I researched existing tech resource centers, mapping them on two separate spectrums:  Target Audience and Training Method

Exploring existing tech resource centers

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BUSINESS

Prioritizes the development of local businesses through the implementation of up-to-date technology

INDIVIDUAL 

Focuses on the development of tech skills for individual residents within the city

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ONLINE

Tech Training and information is found as an online resource

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IN PERSON

Tech Training and information is provided in person, at a physical location 

EXCEL DATA

FIELD RESEARCH

Download the full documentation and research presented to the city of South Bend here

Three target groups

PEOPLE

Understanding how people aspire to use technology; what access do residents have to tech resources, what are the residents' awareness of these resources, and what are the residents' aspirations for tech growth.

BUSINESSES

From the manufacturing industry to healthcare, it is vital for South Bend businesses to adapt to oncoming technological advancements. 

 

We explored how businesses explore the workforce's tech readiness, as well as the skills and tools that could be valuable to their venture.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Eliciting the technology needs of the community through first-line providers, as well as identifying and cataloging existing resources to avoid duplication and wasted capital​.

Four research techniques

OBSERVATIONS

Observing resident's interactions with technology and community resource

INTERVIEWS

Face-to-Face scheduled conversations with residents about the role  of technology in their life

INTERCEPTS

CARD-SORT

Approaching and conversing with residents interacting with community tech resources

Tactile exercise for understanding resident's perceptions of technology

Download the full field research protocol presented to the city of South Bend here

FIELD RESEARCH LOCATIONS & APPROACH

How tech can

play a role in learning

Robinson Community Learning Center

The Robinson Center is an educational community center, home to a plethora of courses from coding to english for non-natives.

GOAL 

Develop a basic understanding of how technology can improve the lives of those without basic societal skills (technology, english, etc).

TARGET GROUPS

  • Recent immigrants

  • Varying age sample

  • Varying native-languages

How tech can benefit infringed communities

Saint Margaret's House for Women

Saint Margaret's House is a women's shelter - a safe haven for women dealing with issues from domestic abuse to homelessness

GOAL 

Develop a basic understanding of how technology can improve the lives of infringed women in the South Bend Community

TARGET GROUPS

  • Varying age sample 

  • Economically dependent women

  • Blue-Collar workers

How tech is used by community resources

Saint Joseph's County Library

Saint Joseph's County Library is a community resource used by a diverse population of people - from young professionals and college students to the homeless.

GOAL 

Develop a basic understanding of how and why our target groups are utilizing the library's tech resources

TARGET GROUPS

Those who could specifically benefit from the ITRC

  • Varying age sample 

  • Varying ethnographic sample

How tech functions 

in the home

In-Home Interviews

We also reached out to neighborsnand residents we met at community centers for in-home interviews.

GOAL 

Identify technology barriers in employment, resource utilization, school, and other everyday activities

TARGET GROUPS

Those who could specifically benefit from the ITRC

  • Unemployed

  • Low-Income

  • Both sides of the age spectrum

DATA COLLECTION

Synthesizing the data

Collecting and coding valuable quotes, observations, and data from our users

PROCESS

After having conducted and recorded all of our interviews and interceptions with over 50 residents, we mapped all of the data into an excel sheet, highlighting quotes and observations, and subsequently drawing insights and coding tags from these data points

INSIGHTS

There exists a 

computer / phone divide

Cell Phones have become so ubiquitous, nearly everybody knows how to use them. The real divide is between those who know how to use a PC, and those who don't.

INSIGHT 01

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In public,  people are constantly seeing the value of phones from their peers in grocery stores, at work, and all around. 

Cell phones have shifted out of the realm of daunting technology, and into the realm of becoming a comfortable ubiquitous communication tool

The perceived value of phones has driven people's aspirations to learn, leading to increased technological literacy, even among those who don't see themselves as "Tech Saavy," and who don't know how to use a PC.

IMPLICATION

Leverage cell phones as a gateway to technology

People lack confidence

in their tech skills

Cell Phones have become so ubiquitous, nearly everybody knows how to use them. The real divide is between those who know how to use a PC, and those who don't.

INSIGHT 02

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Lack of proficiency in desktops and other forms of non-smart phone technology has become a character defect in a modern world leaving people feeling left behind

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Feelings of shame and embarrassment discourage people from exposure to tech

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Tech feels all or nothing; people perceive themselves as tech savvy, or not

Once having identified themselves as not tech savvy, they often do not know when or how to begin to address their tech difficulties

This "Shame Spiral" can be mitigated through peer learning which creates confidence that anyone can learn by modeling that technology can be for everyone, including someone like themselves

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IMPLICATION

Alleviate pre-conceived notions of "tech savvy-ness" to clear feelings of deficiency

People perceive tech as dangerous

...but have little understanding of the risks and benefits

INSIGHT 03

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People are wary of trusting technology because they already have preconceived notions about data and privacy, often based on misconceptions and misunderstandings

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Many people have some level of fear towards the internet

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Parents are concerned with the relationships their children are developing with technology, and they don't believe in their capabilities to oversee and protect their children in the world of the Internet 

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There is a disconnect between peoples actions and perceptions in the realm of cybersecurity. They often don't think twice about doing potentially dangerous things, but are weary of  completely safe internet practice

IMPLICATION

Reshape resident's view of cybersecurity and promote tech offerings that address real concerns of residents

Download the full insights presentation here

BRANDING

A rustbelt town 

on the move

South bend is a post-industrial rust-belt city with deep roots in blue-collar labor. The goal of the branding is maintaining this identity while helping transition the city into a Midwesttech hub

VISION 

To provide a unified, cohesive technology platform for all community constituencies, build South Bend human capacity and open new opportunities through tech 

VALUES

We believe in helping people accomplish the critical things they need to do, with tech as a means to an end. We hope to plant the seed for digital growth to help SB recognize its full potential. 

POSITIONING

Source of tech-focused support for all members of the SB community that inspires interest and affinity for digital opportunities

BARLOW TYPOGRAPHY SCALE

h1 -  Heading

Barlow Medium Bold | 24 pt.

h2 - Subheading 

Barlow Medium | 18 pt.

body

Barlow Medium | 14 pt.

caption

Barlow Medium | 12 pt.

PERSONALITY 

Tech sparking new life, familiar, social, community based, friendly and informal, motivating, welcoming and inspiring

OFFER

Residents: Provide friendly tech support and education for all individuals 

Organizers: Amplify other existing efforts through resource allocation and support

Employers: Train and promote current employees through tech and enhance business efficiencies to make South Bend industry more competitive

COLORS

R - 205

G -204

B- 205

R - 153

G -153

B- 153

R - 102

G -103

B- 103

R - 255

G -255

B- 255

R - 238

G -236

B- 225

R - 172

G -209

B- 63

ORGANIZATION

wheel & spokes approach to resource management

Community Centers like the Robinson Center and Saint Margaret's House have already built extensive human capital networks, as well as trustworthy relationships with the community.

 

South Bend Spark plans on leveraging those relationships and networks, helping resident's feel less intimidated by the familiar faces that will be helping them approach tech 

SPARK SITES 

Enhancing established  community centers that aren't currently equipped as tech centers, offering more specific and personalized tech help

  • standardized programming

  • teams of instructors, volunteers, and interns

SPARK HUB

An inclusive informal space where resident's can come for courses, working space, or face-to-face help

POSITIONING

Source of tech-focused support for all members of the SB community that inspires interest and affinity for digital opportunities

FUNDING MODEL

The Spark funding model was created to aid businesses and startups in their search for high-tech spaces, while empowering non-profits and individuals to grow their tech skills 

SPARK HUB 

  • Local businesses can rent out part of the space for $750-$1000 a month, as they already do at other startup incubators across South Bend

  • Free Walk-in Clinics

  • Businesses and Non-Profits can pay for a monthly coworking membership

  • Businesses can pay $350(+$20 per 10 users) to rent out a classroom or the entire space

  • Resource Centers can pay $250(+$15 per 10 users) to rent out classrooms or the entire space

  • Businesses can purchase advertising space 

BASIC STRUCTURE

Building a collaborative peer-learning environment

An independent tech resource center meeting technology needs of various community constituents: community resource centers, local businesses, schools, and helping them instill tech literacy in the communities they serve

 

An open-room engaged tech cafe encouraging resident's to conversate and ask peers for guidance and help.

A tech bar with 'tech baristas' are staffed full time, offering help and guidance to residents.

Classrooms equipped with desktops and TV's can be used for courses taught by the city to residents, with adaptable 'breakout rooms' available with collapsible walls. 

CURRICULUM & PROGRAMMING

Helping people with tech, how they need it

The curriculum is set up to help resident's learn to utilize tech that can best benefit their lives.

Courses fall under three specific regiments:

  1. industry-specific for career growth,

  2. +tech: a lecture series that informs people of the benefits of tech for finances, security, and more,

  3. personal growth: helping assimilate technology into people's everyday live

Download the full Curriculum presented to the city of South Bend here