Our teammates in Beijing managed to convince the Wuhong team to help them conduct truck drivers interview in Beijing. They took pictures and conducted 60 interviews. On our hand we did internet research about the trucking industry in the USA and found interesting socio-economic data about onwer-operators, who are the majority of truck drivers in China. We also found interesting blogs and forums relaying the concerns of truck drivers in the USA. Laura has done more research about truck drivers in China to support the features of the app we will propose. We also reviewed existing apps for truckers in the USA.
We will meet with an entrepreneur form StartX working on an app for truck drivers in the USA called Dispatcher. This app was started last September during the Start-up weekend. We will also try to use Urban Lab 3 to interview truck drivers in the USA about their use of smart phones, apps and their knowledge of green freight.
We contacted Stanford RD&E to assess the possibility of interviewing truck drivers on campus. We will also possibly contact NRC to get advice about how to interview truck drivers. We will also try to find a public hearing about California new truck regulation.
BreatheChina (Casey + Noelle)
This week we talked with our Tsinghua students and communicated with our NGO partner via email. We did some research on the design of air pollution monitoring apps, created a summarizing PowerPoint, and sent it over to our partners. Casey also made progress on our comprehensive guide to air pollution stats. We also revised our final project/exhibition to include a scale model of Beijing. It is going serve as the template for designing the air quality monitoring app of the future. We are doing research on how air pollution data is gathered and disseminated today, in order to suggest ways to improve that process in the future using new technologies, techniques, and platforms.
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This week we pulled together some information from ongoing literature reviews on urban walkability, walking in China, and differentiating features of Chinese cities' walking landscapes, and tried out Clean Air Asia's first version of its Walkability app (piloted in India). The information we pulled from recent U.S. studies on walkability taught us that past efforts to garner citizen input on street improvement typically involved significant educational components from planners (ex. walking alongside participants and teaching them what kinds of things planners might do to alleviate certain problems).
This information helped us in envisioning a change in our partners' app's interface, in which an educational component could be built in by starting with fewer options for street improvement and then branching into specifics. For example, a walker could navigate just 3 broad, impressionistic categories first for the street they are rating (like aesthetic, safety, and level of interest). Then they could choose from increasingly specific options (pedestrian safety vs safety from crime, then to options like add a crosswalk, add street lamp, whatever pertains to the previous choice, which illuminates the options that city planners might actually keep in their toolboxes for street improvement). We sketched up a very rough prototype of this interface on Paint just to communicate what this change might look like and comment on how it improves on the current Walkability app (which we find to be too text-heavy and to ask an overwhelming number of questions from the very start).
Our communication failed today since our partners were not able to access Skype. We tried using WeChat's video chat, walkie-talkie, and voice chat functions, but the sound quality was too poor in all cases to understand. Instead we composed a long email and agreed to Skype tomorrow at the same time we had planned today. We learned that voice communication over WeChat will probably not be reliable in the future, and that it was very helpful for us to type our thoughts out in email form for documentation.
This week we are going to wrap up our lit reviews, focusing more on China-specific walkability issues, and prepare to survey both U.S. and Chinese walkers based on our research and on results from Urban Lab 3.
Yari Greaney [UPDATED 5-14-2014] Yesterday we managed to Skype with our partners, and we received positive feedback. They liked our research-based recommendations thus far, and we are optimistic that the final app will be useful and effective. They are working on developing the visual interface, and we are all on the same page about when we will share our findings with them, and when they share their designs with us - that will be an iterative process.
There is still one aspect of the app that we are having trouble communicating. Geena and I are thinking that if the app does not lead users through a series of questions, encouraging them to think about increasingly impressions of the walk and potential solutions, then the users will either be overwhelmed by the different changes they could make to the street, or they will not think critically about the street, and therefore be unable to make useful recommendations. Our Tsinghua partners, however, are concerned that the interface is becoming too complicated, and that if there are too many things going on, people won't want to use the app. So we need to work together to reconcile these concerns.
Wukong (Christina + Steven)
This week we finished our preliminary research on green freight in the US and publicity approaches for promoting the video after the conference. We noted the Smartway program, which has been used as a model in China and around the world for green freight best practices, and are looking for additional evaluations of the program from outside sources. Additionally, we are hoping to connect with NRDC in San Francisco (thanks to a tip from Deland) to learn about California's green freight program, which did not show up on our preliminary web search. Having an in person or phone conversation would be extremely useful for gaining a sense of the challenges and successes that the program has experienced here in the US. In other news, we were sent the script for the video from our Tsinghua partners, and we are currently reviewing it. Our scheduled meeting is still tomorrow at 7PM US time, so we will discuss these further at that time.