Citizens Interaction Design : Part 2

First step in Solving a Society problem : Setting process right

Credits : Jeevan Siva, Ashok, Muthu Mukesh, Ruban Babu, Mohammed Suhail, Suhail Ahmed, Mahesjeevan, Thulasi, Supraja , Shanmuga Vel, Gokul

External Credits : Brijesh Devareddy, sybrant technologies, Senthil Kumar Babu,

What Happened last week

We already talked about how a we organised a group of thinker to meet under platform for a social change . But that was just a beginning a beginning.
As we ended the meetup with this slide

You can’t change what’s going on around you until unless you change what’s going on within you

Participants were invited to an ethnographic study program on a real time study of Chennai’s one thriving problem

This post is more about how we started this new journey of making participants to a infield study program. Though we saw more than 80% of participants enrolling in the for for the Program which was to conducted by industry experts in the research we were not able to contact few and few were not available due to time constrains — our only rule being meeting on all Saturday straight weeks.

What is Ethnographic study?

Its basically the study of People their ethnicity, behavior attitudes towards a certain thing. Usually anthropologist keep it open but we wanted to narrow down to a specific problem, to provide tangible results. Ethnography includes both qualitative and quantitative study. Though there are more orthodox approach to it, we decided to keep it in both classical and non‑classical ways. Ethnography is not an hybrid of impressionistic data gathering, it’s an unbiased fact finding involving all the stake-holders. Ethnography provides understanding behind ‘statistics’, why people do this, How they do it and what makes them do it , As it provides the qualitative backing behind the numbers.

Why Ethnographic study on Chennai ?

We knew most of our urban experiences are under fire for inconsistencies and inaccuracies there should be some watchdog unit which is unbiased. Apart from it we as a citizens of this country we strongly knew our neighborhood and we know the exact details about the problems we face ourselves. To genuinely explore our won people’s cultural, behavioral and attitudes towards a problem

First Step in Solving problem is Identifying it

The exploration of understudied objects and the attention to the ordinary lifestyle is missing as a way to transform the perspective around us. It’s the only methodically way through which we can document and analysis on a problem in a macro and microscopic lance . Ethnographic Study done on right way, the issues can be detailed out clearly that solving it can be a straight no brainier process.

As designers it’s important to know who are audiences are, when we are majoritively building product for business why not take an opportunity to know the people around us

How did we start

First week we finalized with narrowing down to one adequate critical problem city is facing , we all brainstormed to the list down the problem. By problem we mean is the issues faced and affected by our own participant researchers or the problem they think is most to the city. The reason we wanted ourselves to select one is based on the quote which says

One would can solve owns problem better than others

We wanted one thriving and most critical which is hard hitting and most hindrance for the participants so they would come out like solution Spartans to solve it. The discussion was fun, one said politics another said garbage and another said he is fed up with road safety . Few even took out newspapers cuttings and showed down most up coming ones.

Here we are also talking about timelines and one tangible solution so we have to keep the feasibility and reliability facts on the research, we can’t obviousness do an research on sea or defense or even air pollution.

So consideration all these facts we force ranked the problem. We all brainstormed to list down all the problem irrespective of reductions.

On grouping a set
Traffic, urban planning, air pollution , transportation , road safety, pollution, noise, rash driving all seems to shelter under one issue tribe

So the most thriving problem award goes to “Traffic”

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them

Now a clear understanding and a process has to be set . The first trick to becoming a Ethnographic researcher is to unlearn something you have subconsciously learned and act on every day. So we asked them to list down all the root course of the problems with regards to traffic and asked them to trash it down themselves , we pledged an oath that we wouldn't assume. Yes we have to agree we are self-interested, self-absorbed, biased and this process of burning effigy is needed to remover our inner subconscious bias

Problem statement

The rapid growth of population in the Chennai has been causing a strain on the existing urban services and infrastructure, for the need of expansion and better management.In order to do a research, first of all you need to have a topic or the problem on which you can do research

How could we solve Chennai’s city’s Traffic Congestion problem in a most effective and realistic way.
By congestion we mean transport networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queuing.


To have a city to be only metropolitan most effective city with great urban design to where is any citizen can communicate with

  • Decent average speed
  • Shorter Trips timings
  • Less Queuing within vehicles
  • Increase in Citizens Road experience


We just wanted to focus one 3 problems at first and the initial goals were

  • Threw away assumptions and record the cultural and behavioral aspects of traffic
  • Document the traffic behaviors across the local neighborhood
  • Identify patterns
  • Come up with possible solutions


our team in brainstorming activity

For research certain steps have to be followed sequentially one by one like first observation, then background research then preparing of hypothesis, In the act of research one must not miss out on the direction of the end goal to streamline this process was necessary.Laying out a clear process was very necessary, arriving on this took us a days of discussion and brainstorming. Defining the problem helped us arrive to this process with respect to timeline.

Following are the detailed explanation about the process and how we tried to twerk it our own way. In Our next parts of the same series we would explain the results of each part in detail.

Ecosystem Research

Before starting to research some structure is necessary in making things, know the current ecosystem is very important for traffic especially for that we had some resources. So a complex network or interconnected system like traffic can learned & understood through various ways These were the main things which was covered

1. Rules
3. System Design
4. Plan 
5. Historical Data

SME: We got in touch with government officials and NGO Thozan which helped us get some live and historical traffic data

Indian Traffic Rules


Road Traffic Signs Recognition Chart

Executive_Summary OF Chennai traffic : Government has worked on the logistics aspect of traffic had been covered in this analysis by Vinoba Sunder Singh R. Krishnamurthy N. Seshadri Lila P.C and team

Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) for Chennai IT Corridor : PDF by P.Ponnurangama,*, Dr.G.Umadevi talks about Transportation Planning and Implementation Methodologies for Developing Countries

Towards a discussion of support to Urban Transport development in India By Energy & Infrastructure Unit South Asia Region PDF

though few of the facts and data were outdated this helped in gathering enough information about our city

Muth Mukesh & Gokul trying to group the similar problems

Demographic Segmentation

The increase in traffic volumes has been recognized as an impediment to development and revitalization of the Village, as well as an impediment to pedestrian and automobile circulation and safety. Although it is normal for traffic volumes to grow over time as population increases. Demographic segmentation is target segmentation according to age, race, religion, gender, family size, income, and education.

Demographics can be segmented into several markets to help an research target. Demographic segmentation is that the information you need is readily available for in governmental study programs

Scenario Statistics

Backing a given perceptual pattern of incident with numbers and statics gives more particulate attention to the issues. By comparing the impact of the scenario with the frequency we can arrive at weather a situation is worth a detailed research or not. After arriving and listing down at enough root incidents which lead to traffic, gather the quantitative information about a scenario with respect to days

It is important for researchers and also consumers of research to understand statistics so that they can be informed, evaluate the credibility and usefulness of information, and make appropriate decisions. Some of the major purposes of statistics are to help us understand and describe phenomena in our world and to help us draw reliable conclusions about those phenomena. Behavioral and social scientists make an effort to explain and predict human behavior in addition to taking educated guesses about the nature of a crime


Surveys are usually used as a quantitative method and should be crafted to get opinions and beliefs. 
one mandate in survey is to get opinions without leading the person being surveyed a certain conclusion. You must avoid putting your own emotion into a survey, because in a environment like traffic or a sensitive traffic it should not irritate or anger anyone.

Survey illustration by Gokul

Survey is also validating your problem statement and one must survey at least 25 people.

We followed some outline and structure for all surveys
Mix closed and open questions

  • Ask reliable questions.
  • Ask valid questions
  • Avoid biased questions. Don’t phrase your questions in ways that seem to guide your respondents to give a particular response.
  • Limit the number of questions
  • Test your questionnaire

User Interview

Interviewing is an effective method to learn from people what they believe, how they think, and how that affects their life. Interviews should be aligned to answer a research question.

What is it that you want to learn? from a answer

This is important because if an interview is aimless, it might not produce anything you can use for your research. However, with fully-structured interviews you can more easily compare the responses from one person to the next, and do not have any separate questions that were asked of one person but not the next.

Field & User Observation

A research project will be more effective when carried out on the natural location or context of the subject of study, rather than in a laboratory or office. It is also a semi-structured interview method to obtain information about the context of use, where audience are first asked a set of standard questions and then observed and questioned while they work in their own environments.

Because users are observed and asked the right question in their own environments, the analysis data is more realistic than user interview. Participant observation is beneficial to immerse oneself into a community to gain a deep knowledge about the intricacies and inner workings that could not be obtained from the field research which is already done or already learned.

It yields insights into peoples lives and customs that they would not be able to tell you if you just asked.

It enables the researcher to see the culture without imposing their own social reality on that culture.


Research creates new ideas, paradigms, and discoveries. The process of creating new ideas will be obtained by the common insights which come across in the findings. Analyzing and identifying patters is the one of the last steps in solutions and most of the time believe us the solution would be awe inspiring out of the box but for a researcher it may sound very direct and minimal

Thank you for reading , stay tuned to read our following parts of the same series of how we went about adapting the process

Our team

Hear is a summary of how to do a ethnographic study in a effective way

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