This blog is written by Viviana de Silva Ferreira Garcia

During last semester, while taking the Navigating Complexity: Mapping, Visualization & Decision-making course at the ITU, I grew an interest in big data and started to wonder how to connect it with design methodologies, to interpret and communicate it, in order to create and/or improve user interactions (eg. build smart cities).

I was feeling a bit lost when I heard of Sensing the City Lab, which was a week-long workshop under Sprout Talent Week 2015*, where participants were challenged to tell stories about climate data – temperature, CO2 and humidity levels – collected by sensors inside and outside the Dome of Visions (read more about the concept behind the dome here). Considering the opportunity to experience such an approach to data, I couldn’t help but sign up.

The workshop started with an introduction to the design thinking methodology – which not only enables, but also catalyzes fast idea generation and decision making, always with an empathetic and human-oriented approach – to help us translate the collected data into a story that would be comprehensible to everyone.

After extracting 12 months of data from a .json file, our team resampled it on a monthly basis, by average, and took a derivative to observe abrupt changes on it. With these “weather” oscillations on our minds, we came up with the idea of relating the data from the dome with the dramatic climate changes occurring on Earth.

Then, at Fablab RUC, we worked on quick prototyping and built an interactive installation that would allow the user to move a small 3D printed dome through the 12 months of the year and feel a simulation of climate conditions on site (with the help of video, a fan simulating wind and a smoke machine for CO2) depending on the data levels of each month.

By the end of the week, we presented the installations to a jury consisted of Christian Bason (Director, Danish Design Centre), Martin Manthorpe (Senior Vice President, NCC), Pelle Lind Bournonville (Chief of Projects, Realdania), Henrik Jeppesen (Director, Attention Group), Johan Bichel Lindegaard (Artist, Illutron) and Vanessa Carpenter (Interaction Designer, Idemo Lab/Delta), who gave both teams very positive and valuable feedback.

Storytelling is very effective when it comes to create meaning and “humanizing” what’s often abstract. Thus, I end the week thinking about the importance of finding alternative ways of exploring and interpreting data, creating value that can be available for everyone to understand.


* Organized by Danish Design Centre and Dome of Visions in collaboration with Danish Architecture Centre, with help from Idemolab/Delta, Illutron, Attention Group and Fablab RUC.