Client Diagram and Project Stages

by Calliope on March 11, 2013

Using the HCR design framework, with IDEO’s listed tasks under the Creation and Deliver stages, my initial client and task diagram is looking like this:

The final assessment stage would be to exhibit results and proposed solutions to the community, to gain further feedback and insight. This would be in addition to the feedback gathered from the Create stage.

One thought is that HCR could be combined with sustainable design in a way that supports some of the readings in post-humanist I’ve been looking at. How would that look and what would a toolkit also include to foster design solutions for shared environments?

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My research into camera prototyping has been stalling. I realized that I needed to return to my design process and start looking at different design frameworks to approach and re-energize my thesis questions.

In Designing for Social Change, author Andrew Shea credits the availability of several design toolkits for helping him understand the process of creating designs for a community. One of them, the IDEO Design Toolkit looks at Human Centered Design (HCR) as a design framework. There are three main elements to HCR: Hear, Create and Deliver. These elements are viewed through three lenses: desirability, feasibility and viability. When i take my thesis topic of human/coyote interaction and look at it through theses three lenses, I come up with the following sub-questions.

  • Desirability: What do people seek in their ideal neighbourhood, whether it’s urban, suburban or rural? Is feeling secure and able to protect those dependent on them part of that?
  • Feasibility: What is possible to create to address peoples’ concerns? How can people feel heard and empowered?
  • Viability: What is the lifespan of this project? Who will be contributing to it and what are the possible stages?

With the Hear component of HCR, I knwo that I need to start researching what local Torontonians and other GTA residents think about coyotes, especially in the wake of several recent media articles. The most recent news was of a coyote in Neville Park attacking and killing a small dog named Cujo. The Animal Services quote in the Toronto Star article stated that there’s nothing that can be done to discourage coyotes living in Neville Park. This approach is very polarizing, though not surprising from an article which is more likely to dramatize a situation rather than to help people come to an understanding. The article denys Cujo’s owner a chance of having his concerns heard and other residents no opportunity to feel safe about having a coyote in their back yard.

I can see that part of the issue is that there is fear and a lack of information for residents to feel empowered about living alongside coyotes. If people are living in an ideal urban or suburban neighbourhood, living with a minimum of fear and uncertainty is a key component. For people with pets and children, there is additional concern about being able to protect their kids and animal friends. No one wants their cat to end up as a coyote snack, and I certainly don’t want a coyote to be shot because someone’s cat was easier to eat for supper than a nice big rat or Canada goose.

I’m in the process of developing a new questionnaire for the Beaches and for Niagara Falls, with Coyote Watch Canada and hopefully the new Beach Coyote Coalition, which was just created to help residents understand their local coyote population.

By using Human Centered Design as a design framework, the idea of co-existence then promotes an environment of understanding from people towards other non-humans. If the fear and concerns of urban residents are addressed, and education is used to help people understand how coyotes live, the removal that particular fear would improve the general well being of a community. The more people feel safe in their own neighbourhood, then the less likely that a coyote interaction will be negative for everyone involved.

There are other design frameworks which can be seen as HCR related, especially the following which are described in Design Activism by Alastair Fuad-Luke.

  • Sustainable Design: Design that is concerned with the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits.
  • Co-design or User-centered Design: Involving clients in the process of design and focusing on their needs.
  • Empathetic design: Researching people’s stories and relating those stories to quantitative data.
  • Experience Design: The experience of a person is created first, then followed by the design of items that support that experience.

All of these put people first, listen to people’s experiences and ideas and seek to address their concerns. Ensuring that design decisions are sustainable means respecting that we are part of nature, not separate from it.


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Citizen Science: Project Noah and Project Squirrel

by Calliope on February 27, 2013

Before Reading Week, I had a very inspiring conversation with Tom Igoe, who mentioned several projects that might serve as examples for encouraging people to contribute to tracking and documenting wildlife. As Tom pointed out, grad students tend to have lots of time and very little money. Raising hundreds of dollars now to buy pre-made wildlife cameras for installations may not be as successful as encouraging residents in communities to participate in surveying their local wildlife.

One of these is Project Noah, a smart phone application for Android and iPhones with specific missions for photographing animals, birds, plants and insects. Missions can be submitted for approval to Project Noah, and then listed for participants to access. I’ve installed it on my iPhone and currently am signed up to take photos for Project Squirrel (which also has an online form for recording sightings), Wildlife in the Greater Toronto Area, Flower Close-ups of Ontario and Great Lakes Monitoring.

Squirrels are certainly easier to sight than coyotes, but having sightings of coyotes tagged with time and location could make for interesting data visualizations to support my thesis direction. Where this could be interesting is in seeing how many coyotes sighted are coywolves or smaller coyotes. The Nature of Things had an excellent documentary called Meet the Coywolf, which aired Feb 14th. A new sub-species of coyote is appearing in cities, and seems to be uniquely suited to living among urban areas without interacting with people, if they are not being feed.

My premise for my thesis now includes the idea that having a population of urban coyotes which are not dependent or habituated to people can help in controlling rodent, deer and waterfowl population to ease pressure on local parks and other local wildlife.

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Online Survey: Why the Crickets?

by Calliope on February 15, 2013

Unfortunately, after sending out links and files for my online survey for biologists, it’s been crickets for the last two weeks. I’ve received only a handful of complete submissions, and about 25 incomplete surveys, even after my survey was posted to the homepage at MoveBank (see screen capture below). MoveBank promoted it among their own mailing list as well as kindly posting it to their homepage, which was much appreciated. Reviewing this, I realize I’ve likely been asking too much for people to fill in a survey and then sign a separate file to submit the letter of consent via email.

As a solution to this, I will have to check with the Research Ethics Board at OCADU to see if I can integrate the letter of consent into the last page of my online survey. I’ve never seen a survey that requires a separate PDF to be submitted, which is a disconnect to the experience I’ve had in web development. I would not fill out a survey that needed that, yet I never though to question what the REB suggested as a requirement for running online questionnaires! A separate letter of consent makes sense for interviews but not for online surveys. Ah, lesson learned for next time.


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Bushnell Cameras

by Calliope on February 10, 2013

This particular camera costs about $250.00 and lasts for a year on a handful of batteries. Seems like that will solve my battery questions without me having to buy a $500 Reconyx camera. I’ve received a few photos from Vancouver Island of a cougar and a wolf that were taken with one of these during the day.

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It’s All About the Fluffy Tail

January 28, 2013

Drawings based on the fence images from my back yard. The last one is an animated GIF. Squirrel tails are quite fluffy when there’s back-lighting! This is based on three photos being taken at one time, for other animations having more frames or video clips might provide more usable frames of animals.

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Online Questionnaire for Biologists

December 28, 2012

My questionnaire about tracking technologies has been launched and is live. If you are a biologist and would like to participate, please let me know via email so I can send you a letter of consent which contains more information about the survey and options to remain anonymous.

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Multiple Perspectives + Interdisciplinarity

December 28, 2012

My secondary advisor has encouraged me to consider using multiple perspectives in my interdisciplinary approach to my thesis work. Like Cubist paintings, where multiple 3D perspectives are flattened into a two-dimensional space, the different approaches and perspectives of coyote-human conflicts could also be arranged into a narrative. An interdisciplinary practice can contain multiple perspectives inherently, […]

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Cat, Squirrel and Trains – More Test Photos

December 26, 2012

More testing photos from the wildlife camera installed on my back fence. The fence that I attached the camera to, moved in strong winds, triggered the camera as the fence moved, but resulted in photos with no animal or train activity in them. The camera has about a 49 degree view, which is great as […]

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Testing a Camera on the Squirrel Highway

December 21, 2012

The first camera from National Geographic arrived and it’s been installed along my back fence to see how many neighbourhood cats, squirrels and raccoons use the fence as a trail. I tested the motion sensor trigger by waving a broom around in front of the camera, since brooms are so similar to squirrels, being bushy […]

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