Winner of the Best Use of Social Award at the Good Magazine Design Hackathon 2012, bldgTalk is a platform for residents of a building to connect on practical, social, economic, and political issues. Through its user-friendly and inclusive design and its offline services, such as the building newsletter, it facilitates resident engagement within the building and encourages active citizenship within the greater community.
bldgTalk was a collaboration with Engin Ayaz, Nick Santaniello, and Phil Groman. We worked collaboratively on concept, development, and design.
The hackathon was three days long. On the first day our team got the brief and went out to dinner to come up with a response to the design challenge. The brief was to think about the meaning of citizenship, and how we can make tools to help people to be better citizens.
We spent a lot of time discussing what citizenship meant to us. Like many New York city "transplants" from different part of the world, the four of us live in gentrifying communities, like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where there is little context of the locality. We wondered what local issues could help us be engaged as citizens.
We decided to focus on issues at the building level, that are universally engaging to transplants and long time citizens alike: immediate issues such as garbage removal, public education, water, heating, noise levels, sanitation, safety, etc.
After doing a competitive landscape analysis the next morning, we designed an easy to use building level social network that allows the occupants of a building communicate via internet and printed newsletters about building issues and to share tools and other resources.Here is a screenshot showing the main sections of the site: The lobby, where you can learn about the building and local resources, including info on logistics like heat and sanitation, and local political leaders in charge of your neighborhood; the Bazaar, where you can share building resources and tools, and organize buying things together such as a tool or a recycling bin; and the Town Hall, where you can begin conversations and voice concerns.
Printed newsletters are the way to engage building dwellers that are not computer savvy or do not know about the platform.
We imagined the building as a node within the greater community, and designed around the possibility of communicating as a building with other buildings in the community. On the third day we met in the morning and practiced our presentation. We were the last team on the list, so we had the pleasure of watching all of the other amazing designs before it was our turn to present, go out for drinks, and go to bed.
You can see our presentation below.