July 30th, 2020

Innovations That Matter – Episode 07

As designers, we’re intensely curious about innovations of all kinds, and even more so when human ingenuity is borne out of sudden change. We decided to lend our expertise in highlighting and evaluating promising innovations borne out of the COVID-19 crisis. In this series, we’ll be using 3 different categories to rate these exciting ideas. First will be innovation, or how new or disruptive the idea is. Next, we’ll look at feasibility to check how realistic the idea actually is in practice. Finally, will be scalability, to see how capable an idea is to reach a wide audience.

In this episode of Innovations That Matter, we review:
1. Activists Use Vehicles for Mobile Protests [Link]
2. Protesters Take Over Social Media Hashtags [Link]
3. Artists Use Public Art As Means To Protest [Link]

Watch Episode 06 here.

Find more COVID-19 insights here.


Hello, this is Chris Cureton, Creative Director at BOLTGROUP, here to host our next episode of Innovations That Matter, where we explore, analyze, and rank some exciting innovations that are responding to COVID-19. Now COVID-19 has forced many of us to take time to focus on some of the social issues that our communities have faced for a long time. And today’s episode is all about protests.

In the past, protests have often happened in large social gatherings. COVID-19 presents an additional challenge to those fighting for justice in their community. Some of those folks have begun using their vehicles as a means to protect the health and safety of protestors. In what are called “Moving Protests”, activists line up their vehicles creating caravans of moving signs. Some people are painting messages on their vehicles, some are taping signs to the doors and windows, and some are strategically using their horns to gain attention. The tactic has been utilized in large cities like DC, Chicago, and Oakland, with some reaching thousands of cars. For innovation, this approach gets a 5 out of 5 ranking. In a time where we are limited in our social interactions, this provides a way to reach neighbors inside and outside of their homes at a scale that is powerful in a number of ways. For feasibility, this approach gets a 4 out of 5 ranking. Where this is an approach that can easily be started, there is a level of planning and coordination necessary to ensure the caravan literally doesn’t hit dead ends, that all participants know routes or route changes, and that drivers safely maneuver paths where on foot observers may try to interfere. On scalability, this gets a 5 out of 5 ranking. The fact that it can be done by almost anyone makes it something that can reach a large number of people easily.

While many are quarantining themselves as much as possible, much of the conversation around social issues is happening on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. On Twitter especially, protestors are pushing against what they deem as racist or anti-progress hashtags. #whitelivesmatter was seen as being used in opposition to a movement of people fighting against police brutality and injustice. As the hashtag was trending, digital protestors and a surprising number of Korean Pop music fans began flooding the whitelivesmatter hashtag with K-pop music and memes in order to drown out racist messages. For innovation, this approach gets a 5 out of 5 ranking. It is an approach that does stop divisive messages from spreading by making them less likely to be seen. And it does so in a lighthearted way that is frankly hilarious. For feasibility this gets a 3 out of 5. Where it does seem to be possible to hijack a hashtag for a certain amount of time, a sustained effort proves to be difficult. For scalability this also gets a 3 out of 5. There is currently no central place to organize these counter efforts, but if it were created, we think the score could easily be improved.

Many artists around the world are using large scale public art as a means for protesting. We’ve seen murals being painted on prominent buildings, rows of boarded windows beings used as canvases to spread messages, and large paintings on city streets have become gathering places for peaceful protests. This backdrop of art has become a springboard for discussions and new ideas. And because of it’s public nature, those discussions are happening among people that otherwise would not have them at all. For innovation, we give this approach a 5 out of 5. Using art as a peaceful means of communication has proven to be very effective. In addition to onsite viewing, photographs of the art are being used in blogs, social media and news posts extending their impact and reach. For feasibility, this approach gets a 4 out of 5 as artists must work with building owners and city officials to ensure the public art does not become illegal graffiti. For scalability, this gets a 5 out of 5, because we’re already seeing the approach quickly being taken by many people all over the world.

That’s all for this episode. I invite you to check back in as we continue to share innovations that excite us. Until then, thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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