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The Network Equity Support Tool

UI/ UX - Architecture - Community Engagement - Empathic Design - Infrastructure Design

The network of support infrastructure for the homeless population of New York City is unnecessarily complex and difficult to navigate. With no centralized point of access listing all available resources and their target populations, it can be nearly impossible to determine where to go for help - particularly for individuals with low digital connectivity, who must rely on physical wayfinders and word-of-mouth. Even when presented with options, there are many variables to consider such as walking distance, availability duration, operating hours, and usage eligibility requirements.

The already dispersed, uncoordinated network is made even more frustrating and overwhelming with these added considerations, further complicating the decisionmaking process and delaying progress towards a more secure future. To improve this system and ensure resources are fully taken advantage of by the people who need them, we propose a combination of digital tools and physical access points that boost connectivity at individual and community scales. A simple and accessible digital interface provides a link to shelters, food banks, health and wellness providers, legal aid, and other elements of the resource network. The Network Equity Support Tool (NEST) aims to quickly connect people with resources in an efficient platform that eliminates extraneous information and visual clutter, allowing informed decisions and easier planning. 

Providing equitable access to individuals lacking digital connectivity is equally important. The secondary element of NEST is a parking-space-sized structure that incorporates kiosk-style screen interfaces and electronics charging stations, all enveloped in a community canvas that takes on the unique character of the neighborhood. The combined impact of these connectivity tools will make it easier to match each person’s needs and circumstances with the appropriate resources. Better matches means fewer cycles through the system, reducing time spent on the street and ultimately shortening the duration of homelessness.

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