February – April 2022
Angela Nam, Iris Cai, Nina Gao, Taeyoung Chang
Research & Synthesis, Ideation, User Interface Design, Digital Prototyping, Presentation
Presenting Neues: an innovative mobile app that revolutionizes governance for the future. Partnered with our client N Square, Neues is developed based on the conceptualized organization, GEM-D — a neutral, transnational third-party organization — facilitates global democratic collaboration through transparently addressing challenges. By transforming system frameworks, Neues is equipped with high adaptability and responsiveness. It empowers citizens to exert power and agency in decision-making at all tiers, amplifying the impact of individual voices.
The project brief is to design a new framework for eradicating the nuclear weapon threat to achieve human and planetary security and a more authentically and perpetually safe planet. Throughout an extensive research phase, we engaged diverse research methods to gain insights into this intricate subject matter, as well as to comprehend public perceptions and primary concerns surrounding this issue.
Our client, N Square, is an organization that works with a variety of institution to tackle one of the world's wickedest problems: the deepening threat posed by nuclear weapons. Along with Center for Complexity at RISD and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, N Square is working on the Horizon 2045 project to launch time-bounded, testable interventions in pursuit of sparking high-impact change, such as nuclear disarmament.
N Square is looking for our input (as aspiring design researchers) to create a new framework so we could move from a specific type of global order (coercion) to another, and eventually achieving human and planetary security.
To better understand this wicked problem, we did extensive secondary research and came up with a territory map with three layers – stakeholder, motivations, and challenges. Different groups of stakeholder have different motivations in terms of nuclear disarmament, and also have to overcome different challenges during the process. However, the large circles encompassing all stakeholders / motivations / challenges imply that there are overlaps between the four sections.
We first focused on transnational institutions, such as the United Nations, as a stakeholder group. We also assessed the role of governments that possess or are protected by nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, we investigated the involvement of civilian society, specifically exploring the connection between professional industries and nuclear disarmament. We identified various stakeholder groups within this category, including social activists, educational institutions, media outlets, and others, that aim to raise public awareness regarding the presence of nuclear weapons and the importance of disarmament.
Finally, we considered non-human stakeholders, such as animals and natural ecosystems, as a crucial aspect in the discourse of nuclear disarmament. This stakeholder group is paramount in relation to the issue as it forms the basis of resources for all living beings, including human survival. Failure to initiate disarmament efforts could result in irreversible harm to both the environment and its resources.
To further deepen our understanding of the topic, we conducted an in-depth expert interview with Professor Kathleen Carley at Carnegie Mellon University, who has extensive knowledge in network patterns, nuclear security, and organization science. To establish a interview protocol, we set up the objectives and goals we hoped to get out of this conversation:
Some insights we gained from this interview were:
Cyber security is closely tied with the safety of nuclear power plants.
Countries will need to prepare for any potential “one-two punch” attacks, where groups do special cyber attacks and then follow up by low-level nuclear attack, which would be absolutely devastating for many countries.
Decommissioning nuclear weapons into nuclear energy is feasible, but extremely expensive and risky.
Maintaining nuclear power plants, extracting uranium, and the derichment process all cost a lot. Additionally there are several points along the way where nuclear resources can actually be captured by terrorist groups.
We also sent out a Google survey to "cast a wide net" over the general population. While expert interviews are great for talking in-depth about one or two focuses, survey will be more successful in helping us collect a breadth of information. Through trying to engage with as many people as possible, we are curious to know:
The insights we gained from these survey responses are:
The public is generally uninterested in nuclear weapons issues, but they perceive them as a threat if they're in close proximity.
People are not exposed to real-life examples of decentralized power enough to understand the concept and imagine a future with decentralization of power.
Some individuals are skeptical of the concept of absolute democracy, while others are concerned about the potential repercussions of decisions made by individuals who prioritize their own self-interests.
To stimulate and motivate our creative thinking and minds in terms of how we should proceed with the project, we designed and conducted a generative workshop with five participants. Their thoughts and input are invaluable for our concept generation, and from which we developed new frameworks and storyboards for our final solution.
We designed our own generative futures workshop using the new metaphors cards from Imaginaries Lab, the Imagination Toolkit from Situation Lab, and the Futures Creation Handbook from Futurice.
Our workshop consists of three main parts:
To distill the outcomes of our generative futures workshop, we employed affinity mapping to analyze both the contributions of participants and our comprehensive notes and recordings. This process revealed five prevalent themes and established meaningful interconnections among them. Our four main insights are concluded below:
How do we make people feel less powerless in moments of public unrest or difficulties in the workplace?
Voice to the People
How do we ensure the loudest voices are not the most important voices? We need to revamp how information flows and making sure all voices are heard no matter how big or small.
Pursuit of Education
How do we stimulate a desire to learn in a world where everyone has access to quality education?
How do we motivate and influence people to take ownership of their individuality and opinions?
Incorporating the insights gained from the generative workshop, we embarked on the development of our design concepts. After a group ideation session, each of us crafted individual storyboards. Subsequently, we convened to synergize and elevate our respective ideas into a cohesive and comprehensive design solution.
In order to create the storyboards, we decided to refer to one of future scenarios created by Cascio, known as Emergency Management. In the scenario, we noticed that an organization called Global Emergency Management Directorate, in short, GEM-D was mainly affiliated with the process of nuclear disarmament.
GEM-D a neutral, transnational third party organization was made for managing complex global problems democratically and collaboratively. In order to work through achieving their goals as an organization, particularly in terms of nuclear disarmament, GEM-D required all nations to provide transparency in financial information and started to shift its gear from working on disaster recovery to go beyond to disaster prevention.
As we were developing our storyboards, we wanted to focus on empowering users, particularly by giving citizens a greater sense of power and agency in bringing about change in society. To do this, we introduced different use cases of our product, Neues, that enable users to contribute their voices and ideas in a meaningful way. By using Neues, citizens can have a more active role in shaping their communities and influencing decision-making processes. For example, they can use the platform to provide feedback on public policies, share their opinions on local issues, and collaborate with other community members to drive change.
In general, our storyboards emphasized the ways in which Neues can facilitate this type of citizen engagement and participation, highlighting the platform's user-friendly interface and intuitive features. We believe that by empowering citizens to contribute their voices and ideas, we can create a more democratic and inclusive society, where everyone has a say in shaping their future. Below are some examples of our storyboards.
After speed dating sessions with peers and professors, we iterated on the storyboards and re-organized our ideas into the final storyboards for the proposed solution:
Our solution is a multi-functional app, Neues, a cutting-edge platform that contributes to the empowerment of people's agency and the establishment of a decentralized information system. Neues is designed to provide users with a holistic and trustworthy platform to stay informed, engaged, and actively participate in shaping government policies and decisions.
Now I will introduce the main features of Neues, a multi-functional app and cutting-edge platform that contributes to the empowerment of people's agency and the establishment of a decentralized information system.
To begin, let's delve into the "Now" section located within the menu. This section encompasses preventative alerts and a global events tracker. Leveraging the capabilities provided by GEM-D, Neues employs an intricate network of sensors, gathering data from nations engaged with GEM-D. Supported by artificial intelligence, these sensors facilitate the monitoring of safety-related concerns, including factors like local air quality and natural calamities. This system ensures that communities receive timely notifications. Additionally, Neues employs sophisticated machine learning algorithms for real-time analysis, enabling the identification of abnormal activities that might culminate in existential threats, including the likes of nuclear weapon proliferation and severe climate alterations.
Moving on to the Government section, which has spearheaded a paradigm shift in information transparency. This transformation stems from the fact that all government data, spanning budget allocations, policy determinations, and environmental metrics such as air and water quality, are securely archived within GEM-D's blockchain platform. Leveraging this foundation, Neues adeptly arranges and presents this information through visualization, ensuring that it is accessible for everyone to review and engage with.
The Act section embodies the functionality known as "One Voice, One Vote." As evident from earlier sections, Neues offers relevant links beneath each post, connecting users to votings, petitions, and discussions, thus facilitating active engagement. Within the Act section, these links are centralized, affording citizens the opportunity to respond to governmental decisions in a tangible manner. Moreover, citizens have the avenue to participate in voice channels, fostering discussions on topics of personal interest or concern. Notably, some individuals have gone so far as to establish their own Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and to engage in street protests as a means of expression.
This seamless integration of information and action is able to empower citizens with the agency to play an active role in molding governmental determinations. Looking ahead to the coming decades, our vision involves the continued evolution of GEM-D and Neues, propelling the establishment of global Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and potentially supplanting conventional national financial frameworks. This shift ultimately amplifies the influence that citizens can wield over decision-making processes.
On the right side of our projection, a future scenario materializes, showcasing a citizen employing an Augmented Reality (AR) device to partake in a monthly assembly for their DAO. In this scenario, they are dynamically engaged in the decision-making process, underlining the transformative potential of such technologies in fostering participatory governance.
Finally, this is an explanatory video for Neues with the presence of GEM-D.