When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was looking for ideas for a safe and inviting place for people to walk or ride, they turned to a class at Georgia Tech's School of Industrial Design.
Last spring, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) partnered with a class of undergraduates led by Professor Herb Velazquez to come up with ideas for Active Pathways.
They were looking for “a project focused on designing structures, signage, and technology to connect activity-friendly routes with everyday destinations, which is a recommended way to increase physical activity in communities,” according to a CDC article on the project.
Velazquez said he met Kathleen Hayes, a health scientist at the CDC, at a Georgia Tech College of Design event that highlighted collaboration between the CDC and Georgia Tech. They talked about the possibility of working together, and a few weeks later, Hayes had two or three potential projects. Velazquez said they both agreed on the Active Pathways project and it turned out to be a great one.
“Working with the CDC helped the agency understand to value of a new perspective that design tends to bring to projects,” he said. The work the students delivered was very well received by the CDC. So much so, that three students worked at the CDC as interns over the summer, Velazquez said.
Presenting Their Ideas
In the Active Pathways project, students met regularly with CDC representatives to discuss their ideas and get feedback. Their designs offered new ideas for changing the built environment to support more physical activity.
After completing the projects, the four student teams presented design concepts and prototype ideas; business plans; and detailed project books outlining their processes to develop solutions.
Center for Disease and Control team members attend a review of the initial concepts, which were pinned on wall for comments and discussion.
An integrated exercise walking path concept for Home Park featured various workout equipment at strategic locations along path.
A wall of fame social media concept allows the city to collect pedestrian responses to social-oriented questions. In this example the question was: “What was your childhood dream job?”
A Midtown tune machine plays music at an intersection while pedestrians wait for the light to change.
One proposal offered various elements to improve navigation at intersections: Three concepts show arrows with destinations and walking times, a lighted destination sign on street pole, and a lighting concept for crosswalks.
The Project 5ENSE (which stands for the 5 senses) smartphone reward system allows participants to earn points that can be redeemed at local shops and restaurants.
Velazquez noted that each semester the School’s Health Design Studio course works with a variety of outside partners. Previous partners have included Philips Healthcare, Atlanta VA, Emory Hospital, Chick-fil-A, and others. This was the first time working with the CDC, Velazquez said.