I remember the moment. We were running a Sensing London workshop that brought together a number of experts in the industry of air quality, pollution sensors, technology and analytics. During our exercise discussing the pros and cons of various sensor technologies and deployment strategies (where/how/when…), someone commented that regardless of which technology will be used, we are going to get the same result: readings that indicate bad air quality! Or at least higher air pollution than we'd like.
The challenge grows to: how will we create an imperative to fix the problem over and above measuring the problem? And, as a participant put it, what kind of business model will drive change? It was a clear reminder that while technology is important, and the data it helps us to collect is valuable, we still need to understand how real people relate to and tackle the challenges that face our cities.
So, while we are still working on the technology/data-gathering side of the equation, we set out to explore what happens once we have it. We focussed our 'design sprint' process on the challenge of "How might we help people make sense of Air Quality, and do something about it?"