Looking for Social-Good focused UX Opportunities

16 Nov 2013 - 11:00pm
2 years ago
2 replies
8174 reads

I have a somewhat unique background and a somewhat unique vision for my future. My grad school recruiter once told me "you will be extremely valuable to a small group of companies." The challenge is finding them.

My dream job would be something like "Urban Interaction Designer" or "Urban Anaylitcs Researcher" - essentially I am trying to combine my urban planning and HCI masters degrees to help evaulate the awesomeness of cities and streets and to help design better solutions. I dunno if this job exists. Probably I'll have to make it. In the meantime, I'll settle for a companies that hire UX professionals and that actively try to do social good with their work (ThoughtWorks comes to mind) or UX firms that do pervasive/ubiquitous computing work (ESI Design in NYC comes to mind.)

If the company has opportunities outside the US, that's even better.

Thanks in advance for any ideas you can toss my way!

Short background:


  • I have BS degrees in Informatics and Applied Math from the University of Washignton
  • I will be graduating with masters degrees in HCI and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan in about 6 months
  • All together I'd say I have about 3-5 years of work experence depending on how heavily you care to wait my graduate school experiences



17 Nov 2013 - 5:03am

Hi Zelbinian,

Regarding Urban IxD, here's a list of starting points for you:

  1. Project for Public Spaces is an organisation that focuses on placemaking and improving public spaces
  2. Gehl Architects is a Danish urban planning practice that advises cities around the world on how to improve people's quality of life in urban public spaces
  3. Jarrett Walker AKA Human Transit specialises in transit planning
  4. Space Syntax and Intelligent Space conduct pedestrian movement studies and advise on spatial layouts of urban districts to optimise pedestrian flow. 

Since you mention 'social good', I've ordered these starting from the 'softer', more socially focused to the more utilitarian focused, i.e. from focusing on human needs to optimising the operation of a space. The latter tend to follow a more scientific approach.

You may also be interested in http://urbanixd.eu

And you should consider coming along to Amsterdam in February for Interaction14 – the program has a good amount of presentations about cities and interaction design.

Good luck



25 Nov 2013 - 5:58pm
Dianna Miller

Hi Zelbinian,

Check out New Urban Mechanics, as well: http://www.newurbanmechanics.org/
They are doing very interesting work in Boston: http://www.cityofboston.gov/newurbanmechanics/

(Also, as a grad student, I hope you'll be applying to the student design challenge at Interaction14 — the Gates Foundation wants good ideas and we have public health folks coming on board to be a part of the process.)



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