A Smarter City Challenging Project
by Claudia Hopkins & Sandra Han

“What smart initiatives could be developed to encourage meaningful interactions between community members to reduce social isolation?”

Design context

People use social media to learn about others and don’t rely on face to face connections. According to digital inclusion and online centres are social strategies in the UK to enable equitable access to technology and help people feel less socially isolated. In Vancouver, VPL Central is the only branch offering the high demand digital literacy classes. Through this project, we want to explore the opportunity about how VPL classes can come to communities to increase accessibility and then whether digital inclusion fosters a sense of belonging.

Multi-sensory experiences lead to more verbal, communicative interactions with others. Hence, we believe that connections can lead to investments in the city and the community.  In order to create the sense of belonging, we created a space to help others get to know each other through experiences as a means to get to know one another and how connections lead to investments in the city and community.

Design Artefacts

Pop Up Vancouver

These non-profit pop up shops are designed for everyone and anyone open to interacting with the artifacts.

Space–Themes change every season to create new engaging content and relationship with artists and designers are maintained.

Menu–Food was integrated into this service as food enables people to connect more based on culture, and a multi-sensory experience.

Interactive Board–This is an anonymous experience to enable storytelling and find commonality through others’ experiences.

Artifacts and Food— The artifacts and food allow for the Vancouver Pop Up to be maintained. They also enable a contemplative experience.

VPL Digital Centres

The underserved or marginalized population that may have low mobility or access to technology based on class.

Needs Assessment— Curate class offerings for a community, by first accessing needs, then confirming enrolment, and then sending out a final schedule.

Bus Stop Map & Webpage— A bus stop ad with a map to the online centre is a nudge for people to attend. There is also a link on the bus stop advertisement that goes to the VPL website if the person has a smartphone.

Centre, Classes & Resources — Offer classes, resources and use of desktop computers. Provide ways of giving feedback through an evaluations form after the course, and have a suggestion box available to empower communities to make the change.