Hoodr is a hyper-local community platform developed specifically to strengthen the social fabric of low-income immigrant neighbourhoods, providing its denizens a means to debate and express local events and opinions while combating the often one-sided picture portrayed by the media. Users snap pictures, upload stories and geo-tag events in their neighbourhoods, uploading them to a common site accessible by locals, outsiders, media, municipality and other stakeholders.

Neighbourhoods with a high percentage of immigrants in Denmark are often stigmatized in the media and by society – being portrayed as violent slums and examples of integration policies gone wrong, with it’s citizens often bearing the brunt of a political debate that has become increasingly xenophobic. A stigma that often results in a number of negative results: from poor self-perception amongst it’s citizens to low property values and the like - factors that often serve to sustain social ills and prevent positive growth. However, in truth these areas often sustain complex and thriving local communities and street life, far from the bleak portrayal one sees in the news and the papers. Hoodr posits, that by bringing these communities to the surface, we can combat negative perceptions both internally and externally and ultimately empower and de-stigmatize these neighbourhoods and their citizens.

Hoodr was born from the hypothesis, that there is true strength to be found in the local and that local integration and empowerment is a far stronger tool in creating positive and reciprocal integration than attempting to force people into contrived notions of “Danishness” – a concept that even Danes have difficulty agreeing upon.

Through interviews and co-creation sessions with a number of different stakeholders, the concept has gone though a number of different iterations – from the telling of personal stories dealing with softer issues, to classic citizen journalism to the current community platform that aims at enabling the low-level chatter that makes communities vibrant and vital – offline and online. Hoodr is an open platform capable of sustaining any number and type of users, but is developed specifically to involve local youth from immigrant backgrounds, since they often are the most stigmatized while also being potentially one of the strongest and most vocal resources.

Hoodr was developed for my final project at The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design 2010. Hoodr is currently a prototype derived from extensive user-research into neighborhoods, integration and the dynamics that influence these areas. I wish to thank all the people who provided me with insights, advice, comments and support.

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