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Design community-based "mobile" communication points that allows slum dwellers to make their voices heard, share information, map resources.

Photo of University Sussex
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Slum inhabitants often lack community voice with outside authorities. On the other hand, they often also do not have access to vital services, information and resources. Our idea combines a highly visible and mobile pop-up physical space with multi-channel communication devices, including people ('communication ambassadors'), pen and paper, mobile and others to create a Portable Communication Point (PCP). The PCP could be moved around, setting up at local schools, health centers and other places that people frequent. It would be managed by trusted local people who have access to and can share vital information. At the same time, they can act as a conduit for local voices. So a person could come to the PCP to find out something or to provide information about a particular problem in the local area. In addition, the PCP could also be used to organize and run activities such as local mapping.


Our idea would benefit inhabitants of slum areas who would have access to a highly-visible communication point. Because the PCP is mobile, it can move around the neighborhood and thus reach larger numbers of people. Users of the PCP could get vital information that affects their everyday lives (related to health and education, for example) or emergency situations (evacuation measures) and could also make their own voices heard.


Our idea addresses the first three design principles. The pop-up can be used in everyday life, not only in emergencies. It considers the system because it links slum inhabitants with local institutions, as well as each other. It's mobility and multi-channel character also make it very flexible.


We are an inter-disciplinary group of faculty and students at the University of Sussex, interested in applying our knowledge as anthropologists, sustainable development researchers, designers, engineers and information systems specialists to challenge inequality, poverty and marginalization.


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Photo of Majed

Great idea,,
I like how this started with Shoutbox that gather community voice, as Simon has posted earlier, then became to a more mobile form.

Photo of Simon Robins

I love how this idea builds mobility into the information gathering concept. This would be a great advantage as it means people with limited ability to travel may be given more of an opportunity to participate. It could also be utilised as a mobile health unit if a nurse was employed to work alongside the 'information gatherer' staff. This could mean that people have access to a mobile clinic as well as have a means to voice their opinions & concerns. The health information gathered onsite could be geographically used to map epidemics and outbreaks of disease, areas of malnutrition, diarrhea and even areas that require visits by specialist services such as eye specialists. It would also make it possible to provide new mothers with a place to receive information on basic childcare such as breastfeeding techniques, hygiene and post-natal depression. The nurse could also educate about and promote safe sex and even distribute contraception. I imagine combining the idea of a mobile information gathering booth with a health service would be highly valued within slum areas. The only issue with the mobile model for this is the lack of privacy allowed to the people utilising it. Some health checks may require exposure of the body as well as discussion of very personal matters. On top of this, some people would not be as open with their personal feelings, ideas and concerns if they weren't given a private means to do so. They may also want their anonymity maintained, particularly if they are expressing views on taboo, or politically/socially sensitive topics. If a solution can be found to solve this then I believe the mobile booth has some distinct advantages over a static booth.

Photo of University Sussex

Thanks for your extensive comments. We have been thinking through some of these issues as well. there needs to be a balance between mobility and permanence, because if the PCP moves too frequently, then people won't be able to keep track of it or know where it is. It also would not really allow for community to emerge around it. So finding the middle ground between something like your idea and a completely mobile booth would be good.

Photo of Shane Zhao

Glad to see you've already built on the Shoutbox team! Perhaps you might also like to reach out to Ikong to see if there are opportunities to collaborate with the Lets Talk idea?

Photo of University Sussex

Hi Shane, thanks for the suggestions. We will do that as we are still looking for a possible place to localize this idea. There are a number of related and good ideas around communication on the platform.