Beijing is experiencing rapid industrialization and urbanization but at a high price. The capital has continuously suffered with heavy pollution and just witnessed the worst recorded air quality earlier this year. The capital now has the dubious distinction as one of the worst polluted cities in the world. So what can we do to the city’s air instead of just complaining how bad it is or packing our bags to leave?
Interactive Beijing (IB), a platform that aims to support social innovation, is partnering with Beijing Design Week to launch an open call for ideas and creativity to rescue the city’s air in the “OurAir! ”.The project is now seeking designs and solutions through its website . Upon submission, participants may also get the chance to receive mentorship and investment to incubate their ideas.
We spoke with Interactive Beijing OurAir!’s Project Executive Hans Galliker to learn more about the platform and its projects.
Tell us more about the project and your team.
Hans Galliker: Interactive Beijing is an innovation platform. We strive for ‘Design for Change’, inform and foster innovation to help solving the air quality issue in Beijing.
We are grass-roots; it started as a project at CAFA, initiated by our founder Feijun who is their professor for digital media, and then artist Lulu Li, PR Yu Ji and moderator Vivian Song. There are also wonderful friends and supporters who help out tirelessly. Although I’m the only foreigner in the inner team, that isn’t an issue and my team mates help out if there language issues. It’s really a wonderful experience and I recommend every expat to join the struggle for improving Beijing’s air quality!
What are you trying to accomplish in this project?
By hosting such competition we are finding solutions and wild ideas which might be the initial flame to tackle the crisis. By informing and inspiring we can raise public awareness.
Your campaign video features different people testing how long they can hold their breath. What message are you trying to send through the video?
It’s impossible of the solving the problem like this. But everyone is concerned, it has been quite severe in January, there was public reaction. But we want to foster public action, constructive action!
What have been some of the difficulties so far?
There are dozens of coal power plants around Beijing who boost up the PM2.5 levels which are accumulating especially during winter time. There are practical and financial constraints on implementing more eco-friendly technologies, replacing the coal power plants. It’s big business and politics after all which make it hard for layman to get their hands on such innovation.
What participants are you looking for?
We are open for everyone, any idea!
From the past some weeks since the competition have started we have seen mostly sophisticated crowd who are aware of environmental- and social issues and have the courage to contribute to the public discourse, maybe also some young entrepreneurs who will use the Open Call Competition as a platform to promote their idea/concept/technology to find partners and funding. Furthermore geeks, environmental experts, artists, event planners or IT hackers like who want to present an innovative idea.
How do we submit out ideas?
It can be a sketch, a business plan, a concept draft of grand visions, tangible prototypes, or handmade gadgets or just a well thought-through crazy idea.
What will the participants benefit from the competition?
His or her idea might have the chance to be incubated, and to be realized with financial support. Plus the chance he or she could be the next person who changes the world.
How many and how will the best works be decided?
A board gurus, professionals, and experts from a variety of academia/industries will form a board of juries in order to give the best judgment to the idea and potential of each of the entries.
What will happen to the wining designs after the competition?
His or her idea might have the chance to be incubated and realized, last but not least getting the chance of financial support.
How did you get Intel to sponsor the previous 48 hours Hackthon organized by Interactive Beijing, and how is it related to this program?
Hackathon is one of our main program models. We are open with collaborate with any innovation platforms and organization. Last time we collaborated with Makerspace and Intel’s research lab Cii Labs in Zhongguancun. This time we collaborate with Intel’s NPO Cinnovate. We are looking forward to the outcome.
What is the deadline for submitting an entry?
Do you have any other further/ongoing projects lined up regarding to environmental protection?
After the OurAir!, the mentorship camp will go on until mid of December, when the winner will be chosen. By then our next year’s campaign will be announced. I can already hint you something, the project name is “OurPower!”. It will be groundbreaking!