FROM INSPIRATION TO IDEATION: MOVING FROM ABSTRACT THINKING TO REAL-WORLD SOLUTIONS
The UNV-led Co-design Against Pollution in Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje has come to a conclusion. Check out what idea came to life…
Behind every successful human-centred design solution there is a creative, innovative and consensus-based prototype that is designed to run in the same parallel as the addressed problems.
In the Co-design Against Pollution initiative, generative prototyping has been a crucial part to spur out tangible ideas that graduated from the first two phases: explorative inquiry and sustained participation.
To enter the generative prototyping phase, a co-creation workshop was organized gathering the co-design team, municipal authorities comprised of high officials in directorates of environment and urban planning and environmental civil society organizations. The goal of this workshop was to translate the insights about reality today into a set of frameworks and opportunities for the future.
An essential component of co-creation is moving participants out of their comfort zones, with the purpose to boost their productivity, foster their creativity and create an environment to facilitate innovation. To accomplish this, the team presented the voices of the community and their critiques to the municipal officials. This tool, in turn, helped the municipality to get familiarized with the environmental challenges that the community faces, but more importantly, it instigated intensive debates among participants that indeliberately provided well-rounded information about the current environmental landscape in Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje.
Under facilitator’s guide, the participants were divided into three smaller teams; each group was appointed with an environmental problem for which they had to generate impractical ideas.
The purpose of this phase was to shift the teams into a generative mindset and brainstorm hundreds of solutions, which later on, few of them would become tangible through prototyping.
The brainstorming session was comprised of a group of questions that needed to be answered in order for the ideas to be relevant and reasonable: a) the idea that challenges the problem; b) the involved parties; c) the desired outcome; and d) the required resources.
After hours of discussions and piles of crushed sheets of paper, each team prepared a presentation on the ideas that they perceived were viable to counter the respective environmental issues.
Myriad of unexpected (some highly innovative) ideas emerged from this stage.
The first group was challenged with generating ideas about the “Prevention of Air Pollution”.
Considering the high intensity of traffic in Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje, the ideas ranged from the creation of a mobility plan and incentivizing public transport to raising awareness at school through informal education.
The second group was tasked with “Waste Management Solutions”.
Their primary idea was to establish a web-based waste management platform, which provides the user (the regional waste management enterprise) the ability to monitor the entire waste management operation including keeping track of containers, optimizing waste collection routes, overflow status, fire events etc. Also, the platform will be able to collect data and generate intelligent reports from the waste generation patterns, which would allow the user to make predictive analysis using real-time data.
The third group had to deal with“Reducing Air Pollution”.
Once a suburb to Pristina, today Fushë Kosove / Kosovo Polje is one of the most dynamic municipalities experiencing major urban shifts. The rapid urbanization has seen many young parents move into the city seeking to improve their and their children’s well-being. However, this intense urban growth has had a counter effect when it comes to air pollution. Fushë Kosove / Kosovo Polje is considered to be one of the most polluted municipalities in Kosovo*, partly caused by vehicle emissions of an overpopulated Fushë Kosovo / Kosovo Polje.
Children and their fragile immune system are the most vulnerable group to air pollution. Studies show that a high level of pollution can cause pupils and students to perform worse in tests affecting their cognitive skills. During the entire cycle of education, (from first grade to university graduation) students who are exposed to air pollution are inclined to the reduction of their level of education by one year.
The third team generated ideas that aimed to protect young children’s health by tackling indoor air pollution.
Understanding that convergence of students in tight and shared classroom spaces and lack of air circulation can lead to contaminated air – not only from particulate matters but also from airborne viruses, bacteria, allergens and odours – the team proposed to install smart air purification systems in schools and kindergartens.
PRIORITIZATION OF IDEAS
After each team presented their ideas, it was time to select which ones will advance further and which ones will remain on hold. To ease this process, the ideas went through a feasibility and viability assessment, to see which one was applicable and would have the biggest impact for their users. Many ideas advanced, however, one was chosen to be piloted – air purification systems in schools.
After receiving feedback from the teams, the idea was refined, and some elements were added. Prior to the installation of air purifiers, the teams proposed to organize training on indoor air pollution in schools, but also ensure the sustainability of the devices.
“During the co-creation workshop, an added value of the activity was the cooperation and exchange of ideas with municipal officials. The coordination and complementarity of skills and expertise in an effort to come up with shared ideas and goals helped us bring a sustainable solution to life. In other words, the everyday struggles of the citizens were something we wanted to address from the very beginning. In our case, the focus was put on children in schools, who spend a good portion of their days inside the school’s spaces. Understanding that their immune system is rather vulnerable, we wanted to do something to reduce air pollution in such spaces. We believe that quality education is a necessity for all pupils to reach their full potential; that’s why we wanted to create a better environment that stimulates their success” – says Shqipdona Zogjani, member of the co-design team.
Before starting to pilot the prototype, the co-design team had to select a location in Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje where air quality is most harmful. When the team measured the air pollution, in the previous phase, one location particularly rose above all others – “Mihal Grameno” elementary school. This public school serves almost a thousand and five hundred pupils in twenty-five classrooms and is located in a busy thoroughfare with almost a hundred thousand of vehicles passing through every day.
In the same transit motorway, there is a preschool educational kindergarten used by children ranging from one to five years old. While this school has considerably fewer pupils than the elementary school – at around 300 – the need for air purification is very high, given the sensitivity of children of that age to toxic air. The smart air purifiers were set out to be delivered to another kindergarten in the neighbourhood of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.
As planned, a training on indoor air pollution was delivered to all teachers of the schools, aiming to give them background knowledge and skills in providing lectures to their pupils about the importance of clean air in indoor environments. Also, the training served as a tutorial on how to use air purification devices.