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Designing Tools for Citizenship at the Good Hackathon

This post was written by Molly McLeod. 

Last weekend, a creative contingent from CommunicateHealth headed to New York City for the GOOD Design Hackathon, a weekend challenge for interaction designers that was hosted at the Parsons New School. Our challenge: in 24 hours, design the ideal tool that empowers the average New Yorker every hour of every day to practice and maximize good citizenship. What can you do – from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed – to foster meaningful connections, efficient transportation, clever consumption, educational reform, cleaner environments, and smart economies?

We arrived on Friday in time to hear opening statements from Doug Sellers and Casey Caplowe of GOOD. Kickstarter Co-Founder Charles Adler gave a quick inspirational speech about taking risks and the need for iteration.

On Saturday, the work began. CommunicateHealth’s delegation – Creative Director Molly McLeod, Designer Mel Choyce, and Web Associate Perrie Briskin – teamed up with Lily Cho, Kanjana Yotjan, Mike Serritella, and Nina Pavlich to start brainstorming.

Here at CommunicateHealth, we know that behavior change starts with small, simple steps, like going for a walk. We decided to combine that idea with the desire to get to know our neighbors and become part of a community. Our project, TalkWalk, focused on connecting people with similar interests who spend time in the same neighborhoods, whether at work, home, or school. With TalkWalk, users could browse for people with matching interests, locations, and schedules, and invite those people to go for a walk. An icebreaker app would provide questions that users could ask each other to start conversations on the topics that interest them.

Mel and Molly work on mockups. Perrie and Mike review the script.

We spent the day thinking about how the service would work, creating personas and scenarios for use, designing mockups, and writing a script for the presentation. We framed our presentation around the persona of Anne, a young mom who recently moved to a new neighborhood and works from home.


Check out our final presentation:

A few other groups had a walking focus, including the winner for Most Innovative, EveryStep, an app/service that would allow friends to pledge micro-donations for every step the user takes or mile the user runs. These donations would add up in the long term, translating into significant funds for organizations. And the user would get encouragement for a positive, sustainable lifestyle change. Check out the rest of the Hackathon winners on the GOOD blog.

Hackathons are great for harnessing brainpower and bringing designers, developers, and strategists together to rapidly brainstorm creative solutions to problems – big and small. We’re thinking about organizing our own health-focused hackathon later this year – stay tuned!





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