Intelligent Environment

Intelligent Environments for Empowering Citizens


Design an urban sensing system that increases the impact of individual citizens on elected officials, helping to address the power imbalance between corporate speech and citizen speech. Our design goal for the project was designing intelligent protest environments using ubiquitous computing to empower citizens.


Button + App = Analytics

By using a button with an e-ink display and smartphone app, StandWith helps citizens be counted and recruit others to causes they care about while providing governement officials with validated anonymized statistics about their constituents.

Analysing the Problem Space

Why do active citizens protest?
What are their motivations?

Network with others
Learn more about the cause
Sense of solidarity
Sense of doing something
Stand up and be counted

What are protest organizers concerned about?

Actual protest is not the most important phase
Main areas of focus are the before and after

Recruiting relevant participants and reporting the actual count of protesters to the press and politicians are difficult

Design Process

Priliminary Research and Interviews

To find out more about a protester’s experience, we conducted 10 interviews with a diverse group of politically active people, including two organizers from OnePittsburgh - a leading political organizing group in Pittsburgh.

Design Ideation

Based on our preliminary research and interviews, we came up with 50 concepts and design ideas that we then grouped them into 12 common themes for our next round of research.

Needs Validation

We speed dated with six politically active people who had previous protest experiences to test what types of activity and technology they would find acceptable in the protest. We created 12 different scenarios based on each of 12 concepts we came up with and walked them through the scenario to find out how we could introduce technology into the protest.

Opportunity Area

Based on our interviews and research we came across 4 main opportunity areas in protest expereince

Final Concept Walkthrough

What if there is an intelligent environemnt system supporting these opportunity spaces for empowering citizens inside and outside of protests? Our final concept StandWith does just that.

Design Considerations

Badge as a form factor

Badges are existing artifacts people use to share their opinion in public.

Cost of Devices

Based on our calculation existing badges cost $25 if made as one offs. But if manufactured in large scale these reusable displays could approximate close to $1 per badge.

Devices Involved

Coupling a personal device with the badge to validate and authenticate users while using it as a means to bring visibility to the cause.

Value Proposition

Validated anonymised statistics

StandWith consists of a low-cost, reusable button and smartphone app. Using both a button and smartphone app, we can amplify the work organizers and protesters are already doing.
1. StandWith can help protesters be counted and provide an anonymised report with protester demographics to organizers, as well as politicians and press members they would like to share the report with.

2. It also provides a channel for users to be counted as a remote protester if they are unable to physically be at a protest.

3. By using the form of a button, remote protesters can publicly show their support of the cause and recruit more people through one-on-one conversations.