The data says that there are people from many different parts of Boston that have all questions about how Boston’s transportation system can be more sustainable and environmentally friendly by 2030. We want to tell this story because we believe that highlighting the common theme across the various parts of Boston can foster empathy and a sense of community–one that can push for environmentally-friendly change in Boston’s transportation system.
Our audience are the adult commuters of the Boston community–whether they use private or public transportation, whether or not they walk or bike or drive or take the train–they each lead different lives that often does not leave room for empathy. Our goal is to encourage empathy between diverse adults of the Boston community and foster thought about how Boston make its transportation system and infrastructure environmentally friendly and sustainable and demonstrate. We want to people to be able to empathize with others who do not share the same neighborhood that they do and be able to identify differences and similarities about the questions people ask.
Our data came from Go Boston 2030’s Question Campaign, which asks people in 20 different Boston zip codes to share their questions about getting around Boston in the future. The data, consists of the textual representation of the questions organized by region or zip code, and labeled with a relevant category (e.g. sustainability/climate change, experiential quality, safety, access, innovation). We filtered the questions to keep only questions related to sustainability and the environment to focus on the specific theme of climate change.
We’ve designed and sketched an installation that allows people to hear others in the Boston community voice their questions–rather than just reading them–and localize where each question comes from. We envision that each Boston county will have a copy of the installation, located near a transit station. The installation will consist of a big touch-enabled screen depicting a map of Boston. The experience begins with a short video of questions from around Boston being voiced, while its origin is highlighted on the map. Then, the installation becomes interactive–people can tap areas they are interested in hearing from and listen to questions from these areas. Furthermore, they can also choose to contribute, sharing their own questions about the future of getting around sustainably in Boston by hitting a button to record their question.
We also wanted the observer to be able to understand the context behind some of the questions, and to continue thinking about it after leaving the booth. So, in the interactive portion at the end, after a user hears a question from an area, they will be presented with a QR code linking to an article or video about someone’s commute that led them to ask one of the questions just played. The observer can then scan this and experience the story on their journey/commute from the booth to their next destination. For example, the QR code on the right would give the backstory to this question from Dorchester: How do we make public transportation inviting so that people prefer taking it than driving their cars? The QR code on the left would give the backstory to this question from East Boston: Can we give more space to pedestrians and cyclists to make the choice to walk/bike for short trips the best option?
This installation is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story because it is an open, flexible way for someone on the go (or someone on a leisurely walk) to hear other perspectives from around the Boston community. It is also appealing to people trying to go places (our audience!) because it uses a map. Hearing each question voiced by a real human, promotes the idea of really listening to one another as well as letting your voice be heard. Empathy is fostered because each question reflects a particular perspective and twist on the topic of sustainability.