When governments make new policies they often have limited methods for engaging the public and gathering opinions. As a result, policy-making is not always inclusive and too often important decisions are made by just a few. SkyWords is a site-specific installation — or an “engagement machine” — that addressed this problem head on. Installed on the ground floor of Chicago City Hall for ten days last spring, SkyWords leveraged technology, interaction and the universal appeal of play to give hundreds of people the opportunity to participate in government.
The product of a collaboration between graduate students at the IIT Institute of Design and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, SkyWords was designed to create awareness of and generate data for the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan. Using a simple, universal metaphor — balloons — and intuitive tactile interactions, SkyWords captured people’s preferences and aspirations for arts and culture in Chicago. Complementing their town halls and neighborhood meetings, SkyWords helped the Department of Cultural Affairs reach a different and more diverse audience of Chicagoans. It also demonstrated to the City how interaction design can be used as an effective means of civic empowerment.
Design Team: Lauren Braun, Jaime Rivera, Jose Mello, Kareem Hindi, Lee Lin.
Communication Team: Lauren Braun, Keta Patel, Jaime Rivera.
Instructor: Anijo Mathew.