Team: Tosh Anand, Diandian Cao, Ujala Qasim, Kate, Justice Juraschek
My Role: Contextual Inquiry, Field Visit, Concept Generation, Video Story+Production+Acting

Bloomington, a small college town in Indiana is often visited for its nature trails, lakes, and wedding venues. We used Contextual Inquiries as the primary research method (interviewing and observing participants while they work in their own environments) to inform a Design Fiction (using narrative elements to envision futures for design) that explores 'Bloomington Tourism in 2050'.

Because the design is for the future, Design Fiction allows opportunities to explore scenarios rooted in values than in physical artifacts. We produce our fiction in form of a video advertisement.

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Kicking Off With Contextual Inquiry: Using expert's knowledge to inform design

The team started by recruiting one participant each for contextual inquiries from the field of Energy, Space, Food, Transport and Communication. I recruited and interviewed Jack, an analyst at Indiana University's (IU) Steam Plant.

[Left] IU Steam Plant. [Right] Jack at his desk.

IU Steam Plant produces and distributes steam to the 3 square mile campus. They use ArcGIS and ArcMap (Global Information System Softwares) to track every piece of equipment that is used, altered, or upgraded related to 13 utility networks running in pipes under the city.

Field Visit at Bloomington Visitor Centre: Understanding the city's personality

Following the inquiry, I visited Bloomington Visitor Centre to find the most common reasons people visited Bloomington, what they expected, what they said, and what they did.

The walls in the visitor center housed over 50 different brochures promoting local businesses, restaurants, activities and lodging. A local resident was there to collect a bundle of brochures for their guests that were arriving later for a wedding. The receptionist at the centre had a background in Tourism Studies and they informed me about the nature of visitors, the information they ask for and what the city was doing to boost tourism.

200 Research Sticky Notes to 33 Design Concepts

Affinity Diagramming is a tool that allows large numbers of ideas stemming from brainstorming to be sorted into groups, based on their natural relationships, for review and analysis. To do this, each team member transferred the data from their contextual inquiry to sticky notes and put them on a wall. Digging through over 200 sticky notes we moved them around to group them as and when we saw patterns, connections and matching themes from the diverse domains (Energy, Space, Food, Transport and Communication.)

This generated new insights about how organizations and cities work and we developed 33 design concepts for tourist interactions backed by these insights. We chose 4 concepts that could work in an ecosystem. This is vital for a Design Fiction to work.

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Fiction Elements

Personal Travel Guide
The concept takes inspiration from travel apps of today and adds more variables like real time location, travel budget, and personal tastes to recommend an activity/place that visitors are more like to choose.

No-Stress Rescheduler
Taking cues from Google Maps' "re-routing", the No-Stress Rescheduler pushes scheduling and recommendation systems from today to seamlessly put visitors back in the experience whenever they want.

No Tech Zone
A major chunk of Bloomington visitors come for the nature trails and lakes i.e. to take a break from the grid. Bringing that experience in the urban space, travelers can let go or retrieve their digital devices any time.

Open Kitchen
"It's the people in the city who make you feel welcomed."-Receptionist at Bloomington Visitor Centre. Additionally, the employees at the visitor centre were asked for restaurant recommendation more than anything else since they were locals. Open Kitchen takes inspiration from these two ideas and aims to bring tourists closer to locals via food.

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Tosh Anand, Diandian Cao, Ujala Qasim, Kate, Justice Juraschek
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