While our coach is gone…

So, the first sprint was a very good start. We explored the core topics of our project such as the relationship between health and living conditions, different data visualization techniques, and inclusivity in design. We set some goals that we want to reach no matter what our end product is. Luckily, in the sprint review, our hard work paid off with a very positive reaction by the partners. All the expectations were raised even higher, which came with a bittersweet relief of knowing that we are on the right track as well as the pressure to deliver an awesome project.

At the beginning of the second sprint, we all were on fire and ready for the second part of the project. During the sprint review, we gave special attention to understanding what exactly our partners need from us and from our project. One important insight that grabbed our attention was that GGD wants to be more involved in urban planning. Apparently, Amsterdam’s city planners and developers have recently started consulting the GGD when designing a new development on a very limited level. GGD highlighted the role of land use decisions and the influence of public space use on public health. They want to be more active in the decision-making processes of urban land use in Amsterdam. Therefore, we set our main question of the second sprint as “How can GGD contribute to urban planning?”

To begin, we arranged a meeting with two researchers from the environment and health team of GGD. During the meeting, we got some valuable insight into the current involvement of GGD in urban planning as well as what environmental factors are the most crucial ones for the public health in Amsterdam’s conditions.

After the meeting, we were certain about the environmental factors we want to work on:

  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Uses of green spaces

We immediately started doing some literature review on these topics, their relationship with health, urban planning, and the strength of these relationships.

Another issue raised during the sprint review was the challenge of engaging people with our product. Why would anyone use our product? In the meeting, it became clear that we need to address this issue for the next sprint.

While we dived into our research, we had a translation session with Emma. She is one of the senior researchers in DSS and our superhero who rescues us whenever we get lost in our ideas. During the translate session, halfway through our sprint, we finally cleared our minds and came up with an idea! We finally knew what we were going to do. First, we redefined our goal as the following.

“How can we harness outdoor spaces in relation to the public health needs of the general Amsterdam population?”

According to our research, urban planning and public health fields are just beginning to seriously investigate the relationship between built environment and population health. To narrow the concept a little bit down, we decided to particularly focus on the use of already built public spaces in relation to health rather than GGD’s involvement in the decision-making processes of building new spaces in Amsterdam. So, the purpose of the product would be to increase awareness about the environmental factors (air and noise pollution, and green spaces) and their influences on health while promoting the effective use of spaces. To do so, we decided to build a platform including a website and an application that has three purposes.

  1. Promoting the effective use of public spaces by providing personal recommendations. These personal recommendations will be based on users’ locations and their priorities in relation to health needs which is visualized with a map.
  2. Gather insight useful for urban planners and policymakers. The data that is collected to provide personal recommendations to users can help urban planners and policymakers to develop city planning in a way that meets the citizens' needs. Therefore, our product will also be used to collect data from users about their priorities and what they feel like is missing in their neighbourhood.
  3. Raise awareness about the environment and public health relationship. We are aiming to inform users by using the data from GGD.

So, we started working on this idea. Diego already started working on the application. Meanwhile, Merlijn was learning how to create and add different kinds of maps into a website.

Charlotte, Sila, and Dania were working on different personas, people’s priorities, and the prototype which was a radar chart where people can rate their priorities and have a personal map of their needs. Unfortunately, during this process, we had a lot of absenteeism among the team (except our devoted team member Diego). These interruptions aggravated our progress.

Meanwhile, we were also exploring our second assignment from GGD. When we first started the project, we were presented with two briefs. One thing followed the other and we ended up doing the first assignment which is focused on the creation of new frameworks that merges different data sets of GGD, specifically the public health monitoring data set and environmental data sets. The second assignment, on the other hand, was more technical. We were asked to somehow combine two data sets from different departments (Social and Mental Health Care and Forensic Medicine and Medical Advice departments) of GGD. We were asked to investigate if these two departments serve the same population or how they can benefit from each other in the most effective way. It seems like there are many cases that these two departments are connected to each other; however, these connections are not very clear since they use independent data sets.

We did some research on this second assignment as most of us were very interested in this particular subject. However, after researching on both assignments, the team decided to continue working on the current project since we felt like we can have more room for creativity on this first assignment.

Long story short, this was a fairly difficult sprint as the team was very confused with all different ideas and our coach Abdo was on vacation. Yet, we did work a lot and eventually completed our sprint successfully.

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