Knock Knock is a community service that provides physical and digital tools to kick-start conversation and nurture an environment encouraging sharing and collaboration.
WHAT'S THE CONTEXT?
This project aims to explore "how we can build stronger social layers in communities across the UK by increasing local social opportunities available to current and future residents". This is because social alienation, isolation and disconnection has become an urgent issue among individuals in urban spaces, despite population density increasing. This can partly be as a result of living digital lives, a highly commercialised approach to development and the psychological barriers to developing trust and channels which allow people to share, connect and collaborate.
In light of the existing global pandemic these issues demand an urgent response. The emerging and increasing needs of society and industries since the COVID-19 pandemic include; addressing cohesion, increasing social connection, and enabling greater access to existing assets within communities for improved resilience, as well as increased opportunities for collaboration, sharing and support.
Reshaping deprived living communities in Walsall, and creating an environment that encourages sharing and collaboration.
Building trust among residents and kick-starting conversation between neighbours.
• To improve the relationship between residents in Walsall.
• To increase mutual trust & the number of activities between communities.
• To reduce operational burden inside of the organisation.
Knock Knock aims to help housing associations and letting agencies foster a sense of belonging for the residents in their communities and improve community cohesion.
Having presented a prototype of the final concept to 25 residents for approval, 90% of people were in favour of the Knock Knock idea and were very satisfied.
We pitched this idea to +40 whg stakeholders and 99% of them agreed to allocate resources to pilot the idea within their communities with 4 high-rise apartments & 40 residents followed by a scaling plan for partnering with other community services, such as HealthWatch and Aico fire service.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Urgent need to tackle social isolation and loneliness
By 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in a city. We're going to experience the highest rates of population density. Unfortunately, there is also an alarming increase in our ability to connect with our communities. 27% of UK residents feel a sense of loneliness and isolation. We partnered with an influential stakeholder in the urban ecosystem - a housing group, whg - with a portfolio of 24,000+ homes, and who are keen to improve community cohesion.
We also interviewed a range of residents to understand their perspectives. "I feel quite lonely since I just moved into my building and I don’t know how to meet more people,” said one Walsall resident. Similar sentiments were echoed by others who they felt it was difficult to interact with other residents.
Engaging with your neighbours and community promotes social cohesion
At the core of this problem is that there might be a missing component in the resident experience that could allow residents to connect with their community members and inform them of the resources available to them for sharing, collaboration and support within the community.
Based on our qualitative research, our hypothesis suggested a conscious approach to introduce people to their communities and integrate them to promote stronger social cohesion. Social cohesion can be measured based on the strength of social relationships, characterised by the presence of trust and participation among individuals within that society.
Investigating 15 people to confirm initial assumptions.
If we provide practical tools to residents to increase social opportunities
then we will help residents improve relationships
because people would like to know their neighbours and look out for each other.
If we create a platform that can increase physical activities in a community
then it can transform a deprived community into an environment that encourages sharing and collaboration
because people are happy to participate in group activities and improve their community together.
IDENTIFY TARGET USERS
Interviewed 15 residents from both London and Walsall.
4 Principles for social engagement
We learned that while people have a high level of motivation to connect with other community members, they need support to realise this. Importantly our service needed to provide social opportunities with disguised social intentions, allowing people to opt in based on their needs, be resident-led and not seem forced.
Disguise the social intention
People don't feel comfortable if someone is direct about wanting to establish friendship because it may be seen as suspicious.
Give people excuses to talk to each other
People like building relationships organically, but they don't mind using prompts or excuses to start a conversation.
Sense of safety
Because they need a safe social circle, people are willing to get to know people who live near to them and they can potentially support each other.
Community engagement needs to be facilitated, but it should be led by existing residents.
How might we design a living community service that creates an environment encouraging sharing and collaboration?
Knock Knock is community service that provides practical tools, including a social kit and a digital platform.
The social kit contains fun items and activities to help residents approach their neighbours indirectly through various nudge strategies.
The digital platform provides practical information and access to other community activities, such as group drop-in tea sessions to meet other residents.
KNOCK KNOCK EXPERIENCE
Unpack new residents' experience
Through our prototype session with 25 residents in Walsall and London, we learned that there were nuances to delivering a socially enabled resident experience
Purpose for prototyping
•Knock Knock concept validation.
• What kind of tools would be useful to residents?
• Understand what motivates people for community engagement.
IDEATION & CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT
Co-created concept with whg stakeholders and residents
Through intensive co-creation and collaboration with residents in Walsall and stakeholders from whg we were able to unpack the resident experience to identify key touch points to design a socially enabled resident experience.
Crazy 8 exercise
We went through some ideation processes and tried to capture any possible solutions in the early stages. It turned out most of the ideas created an environment encouraging sharing and collaboration, and empowering residents to take ownership for improving their living community.
Transform the current community into a livable and friendly community.
Knock Knock tries to create an ecosystem that can benefit from multiple stakeholders.
We measured the success by evaluating qualitative and quantitative data.
Whg is in the process of piloting session that continues to iterate how solution could be best fit for community life.
FINAL THOUGHTS &
Knock Knock is a special project for me which resonates with my life experiences. I always used to feel disconnected from the place where I lived before because housing providers rarely consider house design beyond the house itself. Now, as we are facing a global pandemic, my intention is to respond to social isolation by shaping urban living experiences in this project. By conducting a lot of research, I have learned about people’s lifestyles in different communities, and their motivations and concerns in relation to living experiences. I believe that creating a community among residents will bring tangible benefits to their lives.
Through the provocation test, I learned that people are social animals, but that we disguise social intentions.
Exploring community experts’ point of view gave us more inspiration for where we could intervene for improving social interaction in living communities.
Some interesting topics came up through participating in some co-living events. This allowed me to think deeper about how potential stakeholders could help foster a tight-knit community.
X2 Service designers
X1 Innovation manager
X2 Design consultants