How can visitors to Abisko national park engage with the scientific community?
Location: Umea Institute of Design, 2014
Client: Climate Impact Research Centre, Abisko Sweden
Project Time: 10 Weeks
Team Members: Emily Keller, Marcel Penz, Jenni Toriseva
Personal Contribution: Research, Ideation, Concept Development, Video Prototyping
The Hikelab platform is a service for visitors to the Abisko area to contribute to the scientific community in the area. The project was undertaken in collaboration with the Climate Impact Research Center (CIRC).The concept is to allow the scientific community to engage with hikers visiting the region to collect passive and active data within the region. The platform builds upon the concept of Citizen Science as a way for visitors to feel closer to the scientific research that happens in the region.
The website allows visitors and scientists to engage with each other by providing possible ways they could help each other.
Using the web service, visitors are able to plan their trip to the region, and plan their activities to participate in when they arrive. They can choose how much they would like to engage with scientific activities and this will factor into the planning of the trip.
Scientists can engage with visitors by identifying data points in the region that they might wish to investigate. This allows scientists from all over the world to engage in work in the region, which creates additional benefit for CIRC moving forward.
Hikers are able to use their smartphones as a method of collecting data while hiking. Users can collect photographic evidence that is both contains both GPS and time based data. From our research and interviews we found that this can be incredibly useful for scientists.
The application can also give hikers dynamically changing areas to explore within the region.
The kit is personalised to the selections made by the visitors on the web platform. The kit might contain a map with activities and measurements to take, a bag tag that can read and collect data for low engagement situations. For higher levels of user engagement, data collection equipment such as sample bottles or more in-depth monitoring equipment to take specific readings.
For our term long service design project, first year IxD students at UID engaged with the Climate Impact Research Centre which is located in Abisko.
Abisko is a remote sub-arctic region in the very tip of Sweden. It is special due to it’s climate which allows for higher than normal chance of clear skies. As a result Many tourists from all over the world visit Abisko to see the Aurora.
The CIRCs goal was reach and educate visitors to the importance of the location and the research that takes place, however in the past this is not possible due in large part to the lack of time and resources currently available at the station for outreach to visitors.
Site visits and Research
Our class has been able to visit the station on a number of occasions to conduct interviews and document the area. Initial research was documented and compiled with the help of Brendon Clark from Interactive Institute.
From our onsite interviews we produced Journey Maps and stakeholder story cards which we began to synthesise and explore in these workshops.
Our group installed a survey installation in the Naturum, one of the stakeholders for the project.
This was helpful both to gauge the public perception and also to see how interested the Naturum was in participating further.
From this process we were able to pinpoint some key factors that seem to be present within the problem space.
Time time time
The researchers at CIRC simply do not have the time to engage in the public, therefore our approach going forward would have to rely upon limited or no face to face contact.
Currently, many of the Tourist facing touch points which may be able to be tapped into exist around stakeholders who have little communication with the CIRC
The science is look don’t touch
The scientific monitoring and research isn’t very dynamic and if people interact with the stations it can greatly affect the results
Workshopping and Iteration
With these factors in mind we began another round of workshopping, this time in a project in a day format. These were conducted with Sato Mirtinnen of the SINCO Lab.
The concepts produced in this Lab were helpful as we were able to see the some of the additional constraints in the design and quickly iterate.
Our concepts focused on two specific directions. The first, Abiskompis was a platform for sharing and communication between tourists and researchers. This concept was an app which allowed for sharing items in exchange for information about scientific research. This idea evolved into a platform for people interested in helping the station with collecting data and making observations to participate.
Our second concept, called Knowledge is Power was an interactive vacation experience. This would be in the form of tracking of activities and behaviours of guests in order to alter the experience they have. So if they consume more, the qualities of the trip will change.