UYC SMS Survey

UYC SMS Survey
A secure mobile means to gather stories from students in over-policed NYC schools

You can access our final presentation here.

Our revised case study is available here.

Posted in UYC

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

Posted in UYC

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.
Posted in UYC

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.


Posted in UYC

UYC Blogpost #8!

Our group met this past Thursday to talk to Maria from UYC concerning our second iteration.   Bex was able to join into our Google hangout in order to answer any  questions Maria may have had concerning Vojo that we may not have been able to answers. Maria was largely concerned that the Vojo approach would produce just another website for UYC to manage and that Vojo would not be as appealing or accessible via mobile phone as opposed to an app.
During our meeting, we all submitted quick sms messages to our Vojo test page. Maria expressed to us that she would rather the Vojo stories site be kept closed, and we were also concerned about how to incorporate the “survey” aspect of our project into our third project iteration. Bex suggested a number of other media projects and platforms for us to look into, such as mobilecommons. We were recommended to research the success of apps like the NYCLU Stop and Frisk App and to look into mobile survey tools.
We have not been able to meet with Neo yet, but we hope to soon. We would like to see if it’s possible to create a lightweight app that could package Vojo, perhaps with a screen explaining how to send in a story, a screen explaining student rights, and a screen explaining how to get involved with UYC.
This upcoming Wednesday we will be leading the class discussion and presentation. Maria will be presenting on the history of the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as explain more about Urban Youth Collaborative as an organization. We will be leading a class workshop where we aim to have classmates discuss how to make Vojo suit our needs and perhaps ways to convey the stories once we’ve received them.
Posted in UYC

UYC Update #7

This week’s “Fail Hard” workshop in class addressed many of our concerns and questions regarding our collaborative project with UYC. As  none of the members of our group can code, building an app for UYC would have required extensive help from Neo or other programmers. Additionally, there are several platforms, including Vojo, that already perform many of the functions that UYC requires (sharing stories, text and video, as well as geo-mapping).
Our updated project is then to work on the front end for the Vojo page, and we will be meeting with Maria and Yorman to discuss how they would like to have that designed (e.g. an independent website/blog or as an additional page on the UYC website). We would like to test the efficacy of this platform with student users as soon as possible, so that we can get any issues with contributing to/using the site sorted out before the end of the semester.
This weekend we looked over Vojo and familiarized ourselves with the tools on the website. For our second iteration we have created a sample website that features the functions of the app we initially planned, most importantly the story uploading, pictures, text and heat-mapping. We have added several stories via email, text, and the blog function on Vojo, taking examples from UYC’s website and creating example “profiles” to show how telling stories will look like on this platform.
During this week’s meeting with UYC, we will take them through this alternative, and answer their questions about Vojo’s functionality, as well as get their feedback on refining the page further.
This week was incredibly helpful, since we will be able to use Vojo to achieve most of our initial goals with the app. We will be speaking with NEO this evening, and get their feedback on some of our questions on developing the website, including the possibility of a ‘skin’ for mobile that allows users easy access to the site, and/or suggestions for optimizing the web page/site.

UYC Update #6

This past Wednesday we presented our three design candidates in class – a texting service, an app, and a “selfie” photo project. We received a lot of feedback on our project designs that we discussed during a Thursday meeting with Maria.
Our selfie photo project received great feedback during the class presentation and seems like a popular idea among students as well. However, after talking to Maria, we discussed the concerns regarding privacy and retribution. The concern was that students who show their face on these campaigns may be targeted by school officials or security officers for their participation. She noted that while there is still a possibility that students will be singled out by officers  when using an app recording events in real time, student and teacher witnesses to the action mitigate the risk to a degree. Mainly, there was also a concern about not being able to monitor an Instagram account for inappropriate material.
So in this case, we decided that an app would probably be best for the purposes of this project. However, instead of just an input/output app that tells stories, the app should have fun and appealing aspects like social networking integration. Students should be able to communicate within the app, send texts, upload videos, chat, and tell stories as well. Based off of this platform, social media campaigns can possibly branch out. UYC can utilize their main instagram/twitter/facebook account and mobilize students to use hashtags for certain surveys, go out and explore surveillance, photo-document police presence, etc. Therefore, the app platform would be a good networking platform for students to communicate with each other and also tell their stories to the outside world.
The design of the app will include several functions. There will definitely be pages regarding UYC information, contact and community events. Also, the app will have information telling students what their rights are and how to counter police abuse.
The core of the app will include photo sharing, story submissions, inter-member communication and various ways to view the submissions. Instead of all the submissions falling under individual student accounts, the students should rather submit their stories and picture to the app, and then UYC can comb through submissions and post them at a central location viewable to everyone in the app. Therefore, all the photo submissions and stories will fall under those “uploaded” by UYC and not individual students. Likewise, important media campaign photos will be gathered by UYC and can be uploaded through a centralized instagram/twitter account (perhaps this can eliminate some of the retribution). Whenever there are hashtag campaigns, students can use individual submissions and then tag them for UYC to post.
Inside the app will also be a function where students can connect with other students from the same or different schools. Students can learn about what goes on in other school systems and even make friends. The app can also even have a chatroom function with a live feed. Another possibility is adding a function where students create their own discussion logs or advice panels to gather peer input (for example, asking for advice on something that happened in school and what to do). The social networking component would probably be an important aspect of the usability aspect of this app.
Overall, instead of being just an app for information, this UYC app can possibly act as a platform for further social media campaigns. By drawing students in and connecting them with others, the app will allow UYC broader influence among students and mobilize them to participate in UYC activities and campaigns, rather than just 1 selfie campaign on instagram.
UYC are having their monthly meeting today (07th April), and Maria will present the design candidates to UYC members for their feedback. We will be discussing this, as well as class feedback on our first iteration during our weekly meeting on Thursday, which will feed into our second iteration of the app next week. At present, our app draws inspiration from NYCLU’s Stop and Frisk Watch app, and a multimedia app called Com-Phone Story Maker that brings together photo/video/text elements to tell a story.
– Dan, Elizabeth, and Nushelle
Posted in UYC

UYC: Project Update 4

On Tuesday, March 11, we had a Google hangout with Yorman and Maria. We settled on Thursday at 4pm as our weekly check-in time.  We discussed the exercise on shared values and user stories, as well as a preliminary conversation about the User Agreement. Yorman and Maria talked more in depth about their needs for the project. In terms of users, they are most keen to reach policy-makers and the press. They hope that the information gathered will serve as a useful body of evidence backing UYC’s policy recommendations.
We will also have a video chat with student representatives on Tuesday, March 18, at 5pm, and will be facilitating a workshop on brainstorming potential design candidates. Before the meeting, we’ll be ‘meeting’ with Bex, who will give us some pointers and guides for facilitating.
We checked in with Yorman briefly on Friday about the User Agreement and the meeting with student reps on Tuesday. We discussed the collection and analysis of data at a granular level (e.g. how long students were waiting in line, etc). He also gave us more information about expected outcomes of the project (he has updated the User Agreement accordingly), and how students deal with having their phones taken away for the day (keeping them at a bodega or truck for a dollar a day). We discussed the design candidates, and the potential for a trusted information station as specific schools.
We also sat in on a CURE project meeting last Monday night, which gave us some ideas about getting help from community members (e.g. Terry Marshall from IntelligentMischief). It was also very helpful to learn more about their meeting facilitation and design processes.

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.

Posted in UYC