UYC Final Blog Post

UYC SMS Survey Initiative


This week we have been finalizing our designs with the SMS system and also working on our case study. For the mini discotech, we will set up a sample survey that allows class members to join and participate in a demo project (receive a real SMS survey!). Our project involves an SMS survey that UYC can use to gather data about students and their experiences in school.

Here is the link to our presentation: UYC Final Presentation

We are in the process of revising and adding to our case study: UYC Case Study

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UYC Update 10 & Iteration 3

Our main user story has changed over the course of the semester; right now, we are focusing on creating a  flexible and easy-to-use platform to conduct surveys, and efficiently organize that information. As such, this week we’ve been experimenting with different types of SMS survey tools, and created a matrix that maps what each is capable of, which has been shared with UYC.
  • Twilio: We’ve been getting help from Jaime from NEO on working with the code, that also draws from the code for Sean’s twilio app. It’s not very flexible, and one concern is that if UYC wants to make any changes, they won’t be able to do so.
  • FrontlineSMS: We were able to use it successfully, but it doesn’t have some of the options that we need.
  • SurveyGizmo: Survey gizmo is highly customizable for surveys, and also can send through email. Twilio integration will only allow sending the survey link through text (which using email only then, is preferred and more useful)
  • mSurvey: Suggested to us by Aditi, and we have gotten in touch with the rep.
  • SMS track: This looks like the one that is the most customizable.
We are hoping to move forward with SMS Track, but one issue is that we are still waiting to hear back from UYC re: a number of questions – specifically the kinds of questions UYC wants to be asked on the survey, the number of potential/estimated respondents, and when we might run a test workshop with the UYC students (however, since the idea of a student workshop has been pending for two weeks, we may have to abandon this initiative). UYC  is currently involved in working through a big charter fight in NYC, and are running four campaigns that have all moved over the past week. As such, we may have to move forward with a series of hypothetical questions, and an estimate of respondent numbers.
Our third iteration will be designing the demo SMS-track platform. We have a demo account that allows 3 survey projects and 100 messages to be sent. So, if UYC does not get back to us in time for us to go ahead and implement a fully purchased survey plan, our project will showcase the capabilities of this messaging system as a prototype and demo this at our final project discotech (with the class as “students”).
It has been an interesting process for us working with the numerous iterations, as the initial request was to create an app and we have been trying to work with existing alternative options. As SMS surveying was one of our first design candidates, we now return back to this candidate after having investigated and worked through the feasibility and longevity of both the app idea and also website based platforms. Not many students have smartphones, specifically iphones. The purpose of an app was to collect stories through pictures and text submissions, along with providing information about “know your rights”. However, considering app usage today and the youth population, over 90% of downloaded apps get opened only once. A UYC app may not guarantee longevity of use (challenges with updating, messaging, keeping students engaged with the app), and students may not want an app that provides static information. In addition, picture submissions may not be the most useful since students cannot have phones in school and also the chance of taking a picture in school of a police encounter is unlikely. Regarding Vojo, the worry on UYC’s end was having to manually sort through all the submissions and also the appeal of a web based platform. We also figured that providing a platform for free submissions may not guarantee the most coherent or high quality (legally usable) text. Therefore, after discussing Vojo with UYC, we decided to go back to the texting idea and figured that if surveys can direct students in a more specific route in their answers and also provide response choices (free response when necessary), it would allow a more targeted “data” collection. In addition, the survey can run for an extended period of time and provide periodic texts and also reminders if they forget to respond. The SMS survey would be customizable for questions and also the data can be directly organized from the backend platform. Ultimately we believe the SMS survey will work well with the goals of UYC to collect data from students, but we just need to hear back from them regarding what type of questions they want to ask and also their inputs on designing this platform.
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UYC update #9

In-class Presentation
Suggestions of Twilio and Crowdmap
May use part of budget to create upgrade to full Twilio account to create working prototype
We have decided that Twilio will likely work best for our needs, since it allows UYC to have more direct control over getting students to respond. Also, we deemed it not essential to have picture data, because the chances of a student snapping a photo of police abuse in school is not very likely.
Potential workshop with UYC students – waiting to hear from Maria on possible date, as well as the types of questions she wants asked in the Twilio app.
Met with Neo on Monday. Jaime is currently building the back end of the texting platform via Ruby on Rails, and will keep us updated via Currently he estimates the prototype should be completed sometime next week, but will give a better estimate at the end of this week.
Next steps: Design the questions and consult with student group & user test the twilio platform.


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Update 3, UYC group

This week, our team worked on drafting the working agreement []. Our team met up on Friday to begin the draft work on the agreement, but we still have to hear back from our collaborators at UYC in response to our messages sent during the past few days. Although the communication has gotten slightly better, we still have trouble reaching our partners. Our planned meeting this week is at Tuesday 5pm, in which we hope to get some feedback on our user stories and also some input on the working agreement. We will continuously work on the working agreement through this week.

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Urban Youth Collaborative

We (Elizabeth, Dan, and Nushelle) are working with Urban Youth Collaborative, a coalition made up of four youth organizations based out of Brooklyn and the Bronx.

  • Make the RoadNew York
  • Sistas and Brothas United
  • Future of Tomorrow
  • Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice

UYC runs a number of campaigns including supporting struggling schools and assisting high-school students with college prep.

We will be working with UYC on their campaign, “Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline”.

At present, the NYPD controls safety in the schools (in Brooklyn and the Bronx) despite being untrained to work with young people. During the partner presentation, Yorman Nunez and Maria Fernandez related examples of the harsh nature of the disciplinary actions taken, explaining that there is clear evidence of racial profiling and that there is a correlation between suspensions and dropping out of school.

Currently, Yorman and Maria are seeking a means to tell the stories of these students to a larger audience as a means for change. However, documenting these stories is a difficult process.

We are thinking about creating a workshop aimed towards young people in a high school that Maria could run to gather ideas in her community about how to get feedback. In order to come up with a preliminary model that caters to students, we are contacting The Urbano Project, Medicine Wheel Productions, Raw Art Works, and Zumix to invite local high school students to the DiscoTech.

So far we have not yet heard back from our partners, so we will keep trying to contact them to better plan our DiscoTech events.

-Elizabeth, Dan, and Nushelle

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I’m Daniel!

Hey everyone, I’m Daniel Wang, a Junior in Mechanical Engineering. My background is in medical devices and I plan to attend medical school. I have had lots of experience with mechanical design and am currently involved in the Gordon Engineering Leadership program, in which I have taken several design classes. I am very interested in technology innovation and designing better products than the ones currently on the market. I believe the design experience I will gain from MIT will surely assist my career as an engineer-physician.

My reason for taking this CMS class consists of two reasons. First, having never taken a CMS class before, I thought it would be an interesting and fresh perspective different from my normal engineering classes. Secondly, I am interested in the design aspect of this class as it pertains to social and lifestyle design, which is very different than product design.

As for the 2/11 protests, I mainly followed some of the posts on Reddit. The topics were overwhelmingly about the NSA and made me think more about my position on the NSA. When all the leaks started coming out I didn’t think too much of it since much of the surveillance were supposed to be deemed against “non American citizens”. I never really followed in detail all the NSA revelations after the initial leaks. However, some of the arguments and articles presented on the protest pages highlight the deeper reaches of the NSA. For instance, the interception of foreign private communications and cracking cell phones are a huge concern for everyone. In addition, the NSA is able to install many decoy objects that serve as secret surveillance tools. I think the NSA’s overreach is a burden US citizens don’t need and a threat to a stable government in the future. After reading through the protest pages and information, I believe I came out with a better understanding of the NSA and will be more active in my opposition and awareness as well.Mosaic