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UID Students at the WDO-IBM-DFA COVID-19 Design Challenge
As the world was reeling under the near relentless onslaught of COVID-19; rapidly shutting itself indoors and locking down entire countries, The World Design Organization (WDO), IBM Design and Design for America (DFA) decided to initiate a global collaborative response. On March 25th, 2020 the COVID-19 Design Challenge was launched. Its objective was to mobilize designers globally to contribute their skills to the challenges of the coronavirus spread, turn anxieties into action and use design thinking skills to help all get through the pandemic. 225 designers, in 33 countries, across 17 time-zones came together on a united collaborative platform to address the numerous challenges using remote Enterprise Design Thinking.
Collectively over 180 challenges were identified based on the question-
“What do you think are the most important and urgent challenges that designers could help to address regarding the coronavirus crisis?”
Of these, 7 were identified as the most urgent of challenges and How Might We statements were drafted to address each of them. The designers divided themselves into 3 regions- Americas, Europe-Africa and Asia-Pacific. Overall, there were 21 teams working collaboratively on these challenges. Within a span of about 3 weeks the teams did extensive empathy mapping and user study to generate quick implementable ideas for systems and solutions. Two playback sessions were done where the teams presented their work to the peers for feedback and refinements. The final playback had prototypes being presented.
Finally, a website has been created where the solutions or assets developed during this challenge will be made publically available in a phased manner. The first phase has already been released with the Awareness and Communication assets up. These can be accessed at- https://covid19designchallenge.org/
Prof. G A Vikram, HoD, Industrial Design at UID was the co-lead of Team 2 of the Asia -Pacific region. He invited Asst. Prof. Sambit Kumar Pradhan along with five students from Visual Communication to join Prof. Pier Paolo Peruccio, Director, Design for Arts, Politecnico di Torino, Italy who was the head of Europe Africa Asia-Pacific Region. Pier along with designer Lili De Larratea, Sambit and the students- Khushboo Patel, Srajan Jain, Anupriya Dutta, C M Vignesh and Siddharth Jha comprised Team 2 of this region. All the students belonged to B.Des Sem 6 of Visual Communication.
By the time Team 2 was on-boarded the topic to work upon was already decided-
How might we nudge people with limited resources to practice safe behaviours based on the latest scientific and medical information?
The team only had a week’s time to come up with solutions. There were multiple Zoom and Slack sessions where intense brainstorms were done to understand and discuss the target user group and the most effective platforms and solutions to reach them. The target group was divided into categories- 14-25 years of age; age 25+; denialists who do not believe that the pandemic is real; and work from home professionals. The final concept which they came up with was that of a Social Media Image Package, named The Lockdown Package.
The package comprised of-Social Media Avatars: A series of graphics and frames that people can use as overlays for their profile pictures on online platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.
Custom Zoom Backgrounds: A collection of images which can be used as Zoom backgrounds while video conferencing to promote best practices against coronavirus. Later the users can take a screenshot of themselves with the background on a Zoom call and share on social media to promote this pandemic’s responsible and best practices.
Stickers and Emojis: Fun group of stickers and emoji alternatives for all social media platforms especially WhatsApp and Instagram to add a little humour to the current scenario.
On 14th April, 2020 Vignesh along with Sambit and Pier presented the designs to about 73 participants from across the globe headed by Mr. Srini Srinivasan, President, WDO. The work of our students was highly appreciated for its mass appeal, practical approach and applicability and quick turn-around times. The students have since worked on refining and adding to the above solutions and it will soon be put up on the initiative’s website for general access.
During these challenging times, this came as an invaluable opportunity for our students to apply their learnings and sensibilities on a global platform in front of highly respected and experienced design professionals and educators. The students showed great initiative, confidence and resourcefulness in embracing the challenge and delivering right on the money. It was a big confidence booster for them to receive such enthusiastic appreciation. In the process, both the students and UID have been able to forge healthy professional and educational relationships through the introduction to this huge global network of design. And the cherry on the top- our students’ work being featured on a global platform backed by prestigious institutions like the WDO, IBM and DFA.
Sambit Kumar Pradhan, Assistant Professor, School of Communication Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)
Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.