December, 2019: 8 Day Design Challenge
Self initiated- Based on real life events.
I was in India for a while in December and I saw a lot of protests going on with a number of protestors getting detained and in the same vein I saw human rights being abused and frequent internet shutdowns. This made me think and forced me to research to understand what was happening.... Iprotest is a result of my efforts as a designer to make something which can empower people.
IProtest is a P2P app for organizing protests/petitions, joining protests/petitions, uploading pictures/videos of protests (offline), and it is about people exercising their right to protest/right to information while being safeguarded.
In India, there are protests going on around the country against CAA/NRC. CAA- Citizenship Amendment Bill, NRC- National Registry of Citizens.
The problem that came up during these protests which I am trying to address is that protestors are being detained, thrashed, and arrested. Minors which can't be detained and women who can't be detained after sunset are being taken away for police enquiry. Even peaceful protests are being disrupted. Internet shutdowns are now very common. Protestors are being fired with tear gas, pellets, and shotgun by the police. The beaten up protestors are not given medical aid and legal assistance even when they ask for it. At the same time a few protestors turn violent and are burning police stations, vehicles etc. Safeguarding of the peaceful protestors is an issue because of an internet shutdown people aren't able to get information regarding helplines and lawyers.
Another part of the problem here is that some people aren't able to join protests because they don't know about them. Moreover, people are trying to find alternatives to protests as they fear violence and are usually discouraged from participating in them.
This is why I came up with this P2P app Iprotest which will be used to organize peaceful protests, join protests, file petitions, support petitions, make people aware of their rights and safety measures to take before joining a protest. For increased protestor safety location sharing without internet is part of the app. Iprotest works on peer- peer connection. You can share pictures/videos with the people around you in the protest and after. It automatically saves the emergency helpline numbers offline as soon as you hit join on a protest and even updates the numbers through P2P connectivity.
Initial Design Thinking
Targeted audience is educated students, youths, and anyone who wants to join/organize a protest and file/support petition while being legally and physically safe in India. I know this is a wide audience range but at the same time I think that citizens of India should not live under fear and should be protected at all cost. They have the right to make demands, ask for information, and let their voices be heard.
Since I will be designing for a diverse audience, I want to make sure I use research methods that would help me collect insightful data to find patterns and trends. Utilizing relevant research methods allows me to empathize with the audience by providing me with a clear understanding of their wants and needs.
These considerations lead me to pose the following questions:
- "How can the protestors be safeguarded against the oppressors and find legal and medical assistance as and when required?"
- "How can my design help in more people in standing up for a cause they closely connect with?"
- "How can design help ease sharing and navigating through legal information?"
- "How can an application work in no-internet location which allows citizens to send messages, spread videos, share location, make emergency calls"
Research Question- How can an app encourage citizen protests, petitions, and safeguard citizen rights in an country like India where internet shut down is really common?
Within the context of my assumptions, I decided the questionnaire research method would be an efficient way to gather opinions around finding, joining, and forming information, petition, and protest. Meanwhile I brainstormed my ideas for Iprotest.
Research, Findings & Insights
I developed a specific set of 9 questions to collect qualitative and quantitative data to gain participants viewpoint about protests and real life protest scenarios happening in India right now. These questionnaires were distributed through social media and through P2P( I asked my parents to forward it out to their friends too). I received a total of 300+responses from 34 different people.
Initially, I thought only about protests because I didn't know about PILs(public interest litigation) so my questions were mostly based on protests and what people thought about them.
I let many questions be short answers to let people be natural and talk about things without being influenced by options. But in some questions I did give options and let an option say "other" so that they understand what I kind of answers I am trying to gather and they can add more to it. For example when I asked people about their news sources I gave options of all social media, prominent newspapers I could think of and let there be an option of others which people can fill in if they think differently.
The research guided me the right way. People aren't looking to come on to the streets to protest because there are constraints such as fear, time, travel, and distance. People are looking at better ways to protest. One suggestion was to petition (PIL-Public Interest litigation). Hearing about it I talked to a law student to further research, who said:-
"Better than protests is a PIL. But a government can reject a PIL, normally if a topic can hit news channels and media ie. gains enough light in public, because of public eyes on it, government will have to listen or give a reasonable explanation to reject it." - Sonal Gupta, LLM Student
So if a topic concerns more people a protests followed with PIL might ensue demands being heard. (I could be wrong but this was my takeaway). There were a couple more questions I posed to the law student, which she answered to my satisfaction they are:-
why not many people file petitions if it is such an easy way to get their demands met and also to get government to respond, be held accountable. To which she said that it has to do with limited understanding of people about law.
Being a citizen of this country even I have experienced problems understanding the law and rights. I frankly didn't think of petitions as a way to make government hear until I saw it in the research results and I talked to a law student.
The process of of joining protests, starting petitions, organizing protests, signing petitions, and knowing about rights need to be streamlined and made available to all easily.
Not only is it relevant to improve efficiency and promote people' engagement and understanding their rights, it is also important to see how Iprotest is perceived and integrated into Indian protests and petitioning system and using these findings to shape my design choices. Through my research, it is evident that people find it hard to participate and they would be interested in participating if they a cause directly affects them and the people around them. In this case awareness is necessary because first people need to understand what is affecting them and then they need to find an easy way to make government listen to them and gather support.
My design problem is
Design a platform that will help any Indian living in this country and abroad find or organize a protest OR file or support a petition while being safeguarded and informed well about his/ her/ their legal rights.
My research suggests that people would want to join protests if it closely relates to them. But at the same time they want the protests to be peaceful or find a better alternative to get their demands met in a vast country like India.
- Citizens can search for a protest
- Citizens can create their own protest
- Citizens can file a petition
- Citizens can support a petition
- Safeguard citizens through provided legal assistance and P2P connectivity in case of Internet blockade.
- Citizens understanding about their rights as citizens and voicing their opinions and demands in the best legal safe way possible.
..."It is a personalized platform that helps people of India to raise their voice, ask right questions, and practice their rights."...
Evidently, there are so many problems to design for in this challenge. I will narrow it down to four problems that I will address through my design solution:
- Help people find and engage with petitions and protests that align with their interests.
- Help people of in creating their own petitions and protests.
- P2P sharing of images, messages, and location.
- Safeguarding people by providing them with the latest and correct legal information.
A very important feature of this application will be that it will be both internet based and P2P, latter will help in the times of internet shutdowns.
User Journey Map
Explaining where this app will be helpful through use of persona makes it easy to get the story across well.
After reflecting upon my 8-day project, I learned that research fuels insights that are critical to concept development. I strive to give as much, if not more attention to research practices in my process than the aesthetic realization of my project.
If I were to revisit this project, I would further refine the interface as well as conduct A/B testing and technology probes to measure the impact of my design system and deem whether or not it succeeds in the context of the environment. I also want to conduct some research on low income people in India like Auto drivers who actively organize strikes and protests. With new insights from this data, I can make proper improvements to my design to accommodate them. I very well understand that there are many problems and I am just touching the tip of the iceberg with this challenge. But I sincerely wish to take this challenge back up again and make this into a full blown project.
Left/Right swiping gestures to enter messages, Top/Down swiping gestures to scroll feed.
For People with limited cell phones -messages and voice based service. Other accessibility needs to be focused on but because of the limited time duration for this project I haven't focused on accessibility.