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Future Vision is furniture for transit hubs that increases community resilience by sharing information & enhancing civic connections.


Description

Summary

An interactive furniture series, Future Vision increases community resilience by spreading information, awareness & civic collaboration on climate issues in public transit hubs worldwide. 

In all models, interactive touch screens are embedded within modular furniture, presenting & collecting information in ways that encourage physical interaction. Each type is designed to cultivate various degrees of social interaction according to available space & traffic patterns.

“Gather” pieces are designed for areas with more room. Pull out desks & seating encourage more people to assemble & learn together. “Lean” pieces are for slightly smaller, more trafficked spaces. “Screen” pieces are crafted for crowded spaces. All models provide charge outlets & wifi, inviting users to linger & absorb more information.

By building off existing transit systems, Future Vision accomplishes three important resilience goals. 1, it spreads vital information about climate change.

The community that is informed & able to self-organize is better prepared to bounce back from hazardous change. From evacuation routes to maps of flood zones, Future Vision places facts in some of the most public urban places – transit hubs. 

2, Future Vision encourages community wide action in dealing with climate hazards. Its digital interface invites users to plan for coming changes, from connecting with other planning-minded people in their area to uploading ideas of actions they’d like to take.

3, Future Vision connects people with their regional resources. Because environmental threats can compromise local support networks, understanding how to connect to greater regional systems increases security in times of stress. Future Vision enhances connections between local residents & wider regions by spreading information through existing regional transit hubs. 

By enhancing existing transit networks, Future Vision provides public forums for learning about & collaborating on adaptive, climate-sensitive adaptation options.

 


What actions do you propose?

Although much of our resilience planning and recovery measures are designed to come from larger federal and state institutions, there is much we can do at the local level to prepare ourselves. The more information and tools our cities and communities have ahead of time, the more resilient we become when natural hazards occur. (Fussel, 2007) Future Vision provides these tools, increasing community resilience to climate change by spreading information, awareness and civic collaboration in public transit hubs.

A series of modular add-ons to existing transportation centers, Future Vision models become information, data gathering, community outreach, and planning tools; educating users and visitors about what’s going on in their areas, spreading the word about emergency plans before they happen, and asking feedback and input on how to improve those plans before major changes strike. Their presence creates a continual conversation about preparedness, vulnerability and options for response. Interactive panels are designed to serve in a range of public transit contexts and locations. 

Collect preliminary data: 

Once a new deployment location for Future Vision has been identified, the data collection process begins. Future Vision sources relevant data for the three primary focus areas of its interactive panels’: “What to Expect?” “What Do You Value?” and “What Would You Change?” For each focus area, pertinent data is collected in different ways.

For “What to Expect?”, which presents information on existing local climate risks and planning preparation options, data is gathered via partnerships with local entities. In areas, regions and cities with up-to-date research on climate impacts and resulting vulnerability, Future Vision will partner with local governments to collect relevant data and information. In areas with little to no available information, Future Vision will partner with more independent organizations that have researched the sites in question, such as academic institutions, intergovernmental panels, non-governmental organizations, and/or private firms.

For the “What Do You Value?” sequence, which asks users to share their personal expertise, data is provided by users themselves. This is where people upload information on local experts, personal priorities, site-based memories and informal neighborhood gathering spaces, all of which are assessed and collected for implementation into future planning efforts.

For the “What Would You Change?” sequence, data is both collected ahead of time from local partners and provided by users once Future Vision is installed and operational. This portion of the Future Vision interface provides users with a space to learn about options for physical adaptive strategies, share their own ideas for potential planning measures, and connect with other locals interested in continuing the resilience planning process together. Aspects which require preliminary data collection ahead of the site-launch include information on applicable adaptive strategies for the area in question, existing emergency shelters and regional adaptation plans, if any. This information would be gathered via partnerships with local entities. Again, in areas with little to no existing available information on these topics, Future Vision will reach out to independent organizations.

In this preliminary phase, only data for the “What to Expect?” and “What Would You Change?” is collected. 

Build the Digital Interface: 

Once preliminary data is collected, the Future Vision digital interface is designed and built. This will be a time intensive process for the first few models but, as Future Vision is deployed in more places and the interface is accordingly refined, the cost will decrease. Certain aspects of the interface will require continual management and upkeep. For example, a significant portion of the “What Would You Change?” sequence is a dating app-like interface for users to connect with other people in their areas interested in collaborating on further adaptive plans. Like other apps, it calls for regular maintenance to be most effective.

In all cases, Future Vision will collaborate with local governments and organizations to present data and information in culturally sensitive and engaging ways. 

Install Future Vision models in existing transit hubs:

Once preliminary data is gathered and distilled for use, the appropriate Future Vision model is readied and deployed. Designed for use in transit hubs across the globe, Future Vision’s models are crafted for a range of transit spaces and types, creating learning and community gathering opportunities in a myriad of systems, in developed and developing countries alike. If a region has wifi access and an existing transit network, Future Vision can provide valuable resilience planning services. Local and national governing bodies are invited to deploy these models in their urban centers.

Where there is no public transit, install Future Vision in existing gathering spaces:

In vulnerable areas with little or no existing public transport, Future Vision models can be deployed in other central, public gathering spaces, such as religious centers and open air markets. In places where Future Vision is installed outside, models include shade cover and added shelter for increased user comfort. Again, encouraging users to linger is a key part of Future Vision’s engagement, education and community planning strategy -- as such, creating comfortable gathering spaces is essential. Solar panels, which are embedded in all Future Vision models, provide on-site power and lighting. 

Cultivate Social Ties in Resilience Planning:

This more decentralized approach to resilience planning has great value. As future conditions are inherently unpredictable and therefore highly difficult to plan for in a rational fashion, effective spatial planning strategies – the focus of many existing resilience dialogues – remain challenging to craft and execute. As such, researchers at the forefront of resilience planning (ie a community’s ability to negotiate stress), are emphatic that the best bet for creating more resilient systems is to focus on social and community planning, enhance our collective capacities for learning, adaptation and self-organization. (Berkes, Colding & Folke, 2008) (Klinenberg, 2013) 

As such, Future Vision’s decentralized approach to enhancing civic awareness and engagement in climate issues is needed now more than ever. One of the most important things we can do to increase our collective resilience to climate change is to enhance both social ties and basic understanding of climate change issues (Fussel, 2007). The more information we have about the changes headed our way and what tools are available, the more empowered we become to advocate, prepare for, and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. At the same time, the stronger our ties with fellow community members are, the more we are prepared to take care of each other when hazardous changes occur. Modular tools that increase public understanding of and collaboration on climate change issues is a key means to achieve this goal. Future Vision is that tool.   

Digitize the Design Charrette Process:

One of Future Vision’s most powerful aspects is that it digitizes the design charrette.When done well, the design charrette process creates trust between involved parties and greater understanding of the issues at hand. Benefits include: expanded horizons for local people to imagine and visualize possibilities; allows for holistic analysis of problems; encourages consensus building; encourages active community involvement through immediate feedback processes; gives a voice to all participants, including those who are less confident; can cultivate new perspectives through community education; provides community members the chance to provide input at a number of points in the development process. (Sarkissian et al, 1986) Due to costs and time required, however, design charrettes are not always employed.

Future Vision makes the design charrette process digitally available in the public realm. Touch screens are programmed with a suite of educational and opinion gathering steps, taking users through three key design charrette phases. The “What to Expect?” series presents vital information on local risk and preparedness, identifying areas with the greatest flood risk, liquefaction zones, and existing evacuation plans. Next is the “What Do You Value?” phase, which asks users to share their personal expertise. Information on local experts, personal priorities, site-based memories and informal neighborhood gathering spaces is assessed and collected for implementation into future planning efforts. 

The “What Would You Change?” phase is last, providing users with a space to learn about physical adaptive strategies, find emergency shelters in neighboring regions, and connect with other locals interested in continuing the resilience planning process together.

As such, the “What Would You Change?” phase is the section where people begin responding to embedded calls to action. Users can connect to existing planning groups in their area (this information will be provided by local government and organizational connections); upload ideas of what they might like to see happen within their communities; connect with others (through a dating app-like interface) in their area who are also interested in talking more about these adaptation and planning issues; and discover more organizations, websites and resources to connect with to continue learning about their local climate vulnerability.

All information that users upload in the “What Do You Value?” and “What Would You Change?” phases is compiled into a database to which Future Vision provides ongoing and collaborative access. Users can also check back into the Future Vision system to see how others have responded to their ideas, comments and questions, creating an ongoing, publicly-accessible climate resilience conversation. 

Utilize Collected Data to Inform Planning Processes and Improve Climate Communication Tools:

With Future Vision, increasing community engagement and awareness becomes an ongoing part of the resilient design and planning process. Data collected from the Future Vision models is made available to regional planning agencies, providing a wealth of valuable information on citizen views on climate change and adaptive strategies. Planned interventions benefit from regular public feedback, ensuring that funding is wisely spent on projects that will benefit those they’re intended to serve. Collected data likewise helps planners, designers and climate communicators understand more about local communities’ attitudes, preferences, fears and language used to talk about change. This information provides critical tools to refine communication methods for spreading adaptation information, setting the scene for greater mobilization and broad based public support for adaptation efforts.

By locating these learning-based, data-collection experiences in existing transit hubs, Future Vision models become engaging, publicly accessible ways to inform people about climate change impacts, as well as tools through which users can express their concerns and ideas. In doing so, Future Vision helps communities anticipate, absorb, and reshape in response to the impacts of climate change and its associated natural hazards. With the Future Vision system, users can find emergency shelters in other cities while they’re waiting for the bus. They can connect with people and community centers in other areas while charging their phones. With Future Vision, the resilience planning process is embedded in the everyday process of walking down the street.

 


Who will take these actions?

The Future Vision series is designed to be deployed in areas across the globe through government sponsored partnerships. Financial and administrative support from municipal, regional and federal governing institutions is key to implementing the full suite of Future Vision’s data collection services. If transit networks are managed by public-private partnerships, the private sector has a key managerial role to play as well and needs to be brought into the planning process early on. Other essential actors are the day-to-day Future Vision users – the diverse peoples who comprise the transit system ridership of the cities and regions where Future Vision is deployed.

As data collection of public perception on climate issues is an important part of the Future Vision process, following up on that data is an integral part of the program. Findings can help refine both local outreach and communication efforts, as well as make infrastructure support systems more responsive to user queries, qualms and ideas. To do so, research organizations must be involved, either as full partners or as dedicated subcontractors, to analyze the data on a continual basis. Results should be made available to both government-based planning agencies and private development companies alike.


Where will these actions be taken?

Future Vision is designed for deployment in transit hubs across the globe. Its five models accommodate a range of transit spaces & types, creating learning, data collection & community gathering opportunities in developed & developing countries alike. Where there are existing transit networks & internet access, Future Vision can provide valuable resilience planning services. Digital education experiences are designed to be retrofitted to embrace local language & cultural norms. Again, the more traffic and less space a hub has, the more compact the Future Vision model becomes.

The five sites chosen thus far are: Delhi; Suva, Fiji; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Salvador, Brazil; and NYC. Aside from NYC, all these areas are examples of developing countries subject to significant climate change impacts, with existing regional transit networks that boast robust local ridership.

Delhi has issues ranging from severe heat waves to serious air pollution. In addition to metro and train systems, Delhi is also serviced by DTC TATA buses, which cater to 60% of the city’s transit demand. (Bose, 2012)

Dar es Salaam, which has serious earthquake & drought risks, is serviced by the Dar Rapid Transit (DART) system. (Musa et al, 2015) Regularly plagued with landslides, Salvador has a robust metro system. Suva, regularly hit by severe hurricanes, has a more informal bus system. (Fiji National Report, 2013)

NYC is included because 1, the subway car is used in transit systems across the globe and 2, the city remains relatively unprepared for climate change impacts, as shown by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Again, in vulnerable areas with little existing public transit, Future Vision models can be deployed in other central gathering spaces. Locations such as religious centers, markets, schools, and play fields can serve as effective Future Vision sites. In places where Future Vision is deployed outside, models are designed to include shade cover and added shelter for increased user comfort. 


What are other key benefits?

Spreading climate change awareness remains one of our greatest collective challenges. With such wide-ranging effects, most can't see its wider scope. That lack of physical connection to the issues encourages many people to respond with pre-existing beliefs & prejudices. 

Overcoming these obstacles is critical to creating more broad-based action. For decades, research has shown that more engaging educational experiences encourage more participants to absorb information & share their own expertise (Thier and Linn, 1979). Translating facts in ways that invite rather than demand participation is key to spreading awareness & action. As such, embedding projects with whimsy and fun is as important as the data itself.

With its modular, interactive designs, Future Vision engages people on a physical level to create more inclusive climate dialogues. Placing them in public spaces creates opportunities for informal conversations & connection, cultivating stronger social ties.


What are the proposal’s costs?

Projected base costs of the Future Vision models range from $23,830 to $48,800 USD, depending on model deployed. Single screen models for subways cars are priced lower at $17,750.

These numbers are strictly for the physical models themselves. Start-up costs of engineering Future Vision's digital interface would cost roughly $100,000. This does not include ongoing costs of physical and technological maintenance services for both the furniture and digital programming, or data collection and preliminary analysis services. 

Participating government bodies and organizations would be expected to raise their own funds for implementing user response data into resilience planning efforts. 


Time line

Short term (5-15 years): Secure funding. Proceed with design development and refinement. Identify governing bodies and communities with which to partner for deployment. Refine digital experiences to reflect local priorities and customs. Deploy Future Vision models, continually monitoring usage and results. Refine design accordingly. Facilitate use of collected data in adaptation efforts and enhanced climate communication methodologies.

Medium term (15-50 years): Continue refining Future Vision designs. Conduct in-depth analysis on collected data on public climate change perceptions, assessing cultural differences in attitudes towards risk and perceived vulnerability. Coordinate between participating governing bodies where necessary.

Long term (50-100 years): Re-assess whether Future Vision approach is still the most useful medium through which to spread climate change awareness and engagement and conduct participatory data collection. Depending on findings, either continue to refine and deploy Future Vision models or shut the program down in favor of more effective tools.


Related proposals

Both Anticipating Climate Hazards (https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/A2R-Anticipating-Climate-Hazards/c/proposal/1333773) and Early Warning Systems and Disaster Management using Mobile Crowdsourcing (https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/A2R-Anticipating-Climate-Hazards/c/proposal/1333769) also focus on information access and education.

Providing Support Through a Network of Resilient Community Hubs https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/A2R-Anticipating-Climate-Hazards/c/proposal/1333768 also emphasizes the value of physical gathering spaces for enhancing resilience to natural hazards and climate change impacts. 


References

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