Data in Public

datainpublic is a two-person design studio from AHO. Our aim is to probe our contemporary relationship with public digital media, which currently operates as a vessel for functional or commercial information. We are investigating how public data x digital media x public space might create spaces or scenarios for the public to discuss or engage with the sociopolitical issues of our day.

Killing Time

We have seen examples of beautiful and effective public installations aiming to increase awareness of the consequences of climate change.

But we wondered: do we, as individuals, need more data about climate change? We have seen the headlines and heard the pundits - are we already aware, but just not acting? We became interested not in communicating climate change data, but in looking at how we have collectively responded (or not responded).

What data do we care about?

If we don’t pay attention to data that has an immense impact on our collective futures, what data do we care about? We care about the data that impacts us minute by minute - when the movie plays at the cinema, when the train leaves, when the bus arrives.

Many Oslo bus stops have a small screen that shows a countdown to buses arriving imminently, with a scrolling ticker line at the bottom of the screen showing buses whose arrival is a bit further out.

Using this same visual language, we created a live visual that accurately pulled bus arrival times from Ruter’s API, and replaced the scrolling line with a countdown to when some experts have projected we will hit the 2 degree C warming limit. With this visual, we were looking to juxtapose the way we process different types of data, and ask a larger question about our relationship with information and urgency.

Testing on the Street

We projected the visual onto a moderately busy street multiple times, testing different text, placement and brightness. We saw passers-by stop to read the text, to check the accuracy of the bus arrival times with existing screens, and to see the scrolling ticker move by multiple times. For those facing the visual while waiting for the bus, it became an object of curiosity and conversation. As they counted down, minute by minute the time left until their bus arrived, they also saw that those same, eagerly passed minutes brought them closer to another projected timeline.

We approached this prototype as a design probe - something to design and test quickly, a vehicle to help us further understand our area of research. We decided to work with projection, a quick way to get things up in public with minimal setup and hardware.

Killing Time 2.0 - the Campaign Tool

Killing Time was used by Akershus Natur og Ungdom to promote their 22 March 2019 climate rally. They projected Killing Time in prominent public spaces (Oslo S, Karl Johans gate, Nationaltheatret, Kulturhuset) in the lead up to their rally.

To support their efforts, we turned Killing Time into a kit, making it possible for organizers to select the appropriate bus / tram information for where they wanted to project. With the kit, they could project it in as many different places as they had projectors or screens.