‘Hood Hub is a collaborative prototype project designed with fellow attendees of Paper Tiger Television’s Being the Media: Designing a Rrradical New Media conference. Together, we created the concept of a mesh network, low-tech support infrastructure for immigrant communities. The goal is to overcome the language barriers and social isolation that many immigrants face, and use accessible technology to connect them with services they need.
The idea works like this: an immigrant with little to no English skills works in a kitchen, but has not been paid in three weeks. She’s not sure what to do – how to settle the grievance with her employer, how to find another job, etc. But she can call ‘Hood Hub with these questions – difficult questions that others who have been in that situation would have the answer to. She leaves a message, and later receives a call back with the answer or information that can help solve the situation.
‘Hood Hub functions as a mesh network, where individuals pool their collective knowledge into a repository which benefits them each time they use it. Others can call in to the line to answer questions, or rate answers. Issue may also be addressable via an online interface, but our goal was to make the service as accessible as possible. While the concept can be implemented in any community that has this need, it was designed with Brooklyn in mind, where 40% of residents don’t have access to the Internet at their home. On a national level, nearly two-thirds of African-Americans (64%) and Latinos (63%) access the Internet only through their phones. We wanted the system to be versatile, but practical.
We presented our concept at the Metropolitan Medium of Art during Paper Tiger Television’s film screening on February 24th, along with two other prototypes developed at the conference. At present, we are still open to further development of this prototype.