As government and industry have struggled to respond meaningfully to the pandemic and its related social ailments, a civic response — an imperative for frontline workers who often lacked basic safety gear — materialized. Networks of makerspaces shared designs for personal protective equipment, produced them locally, and distributed them nationally. Local institutions like libraries, cut off from their normal operations by shelter in place orders, got creative helping people in new ways furthering their mandate for public service. And, as the situation has drawn out across the year, the uncertainties of the spring have revealed inherent structural deficits — particularly in access to technology and broadband internet, now a prerequisite for work and school.
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2020 @ 4pm PT / 7pm ET
This week on Plan C Live, Dale Dougherty of Make Community looks back at some of the people and projects — countermeasures — that have exemplified maker initiative and ingenuity through the pandemic with our panelists:
Vi Ha is a librarian in the Science, Technology & Patents Department at the Los Angeles Public Library and directs the Octavia Lab, a do-it-yourself makerspace and studio space at the Central Library that converted to making PPE during the pandemic. She’ll be discussing what the library did to aid the community during the pandemic and introducing their upcoming documentary on that work.
Keith Hanson was appointed as Shreveport, Louisiana’s first Chief Technology Officer in 2019. Previously the chief executive of a successful software development agency based in Shreveport, LA. Mayor Perkins appointed Keith to oversee all of the typical internal IT services the City provides, while also charging him with the task to bring Shreveport forward technologically. He and his staff are now pursuing Universal Broadband – affordable or free internet connections for all residents, as well as broad “Smart City” or “IoT” initiatives and actively developing multiple in-house prototypes using Raspberry Pis to create sensors and platforms that deploy quickly and cheaply, customized to Shreveport’s problems. At home, Keith is a maker, runs multiple Pi’s using open source and self hosted software, and believes Government can learn much from the maker movement and open source at large. Specifically, he’ll be talking about the launch of the City of Shreveport’s Garbage Truck-powered WiFi survey, where they mapped where wifi is and isn’t throughout the city, indicating those who may and may not have an internet connection. Check out the explainer page around the digital divide here that mentions this project and contains the map we created using rPi’s here.
DC Denison is the “maker-in-residence” at District Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. District Hall is a public innovation center in the center of Boston’s Seaport “Innovation District.” During this residency, DC has been exploring “touchless” technologies that enable interactivity without contact. The goal is to develop contactless technologies that public spaces can use to engage customers without endangering them. So far DC has developed and installed a gesture-controlled gachapon or “prize capsule” machine that dispenses hand-sanitizing moist towelettes (a variation of a DIY gumball machine featured in Make:), and a holiday tree that features blinky strings of LED lights that can be controlled with the wave of a hand. You can read about his adventures at the intersection of Maker culture and “creative placemaking” at Placemaking Report.