© 2021 Sean Lin
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The home page shows the total donated by the user along with the investment revenues. They also see the current investment target and have access to all their property ownership.

Property

Each property page provides users with information about ownership details, purchase history, status of funding and housing speci cations.

Revenue

The revenue page shows users a real time graph of their earnings. This is also the page where users can transfer their earns to either a connected Bank or back to their EasyCard.

While Taipei is aggressively developing new smart city infrastructures, it is important to rethink the direction in which technology and the IoT in people’s interactions with the urban environment. With rising issues such as data privacy and security, how might we think about future urban interactions without putting technology at the forefront? Instead of striving for a completely “Smart” Taipei, we should be striving towards a more balanced future where technology is minimal and implemented cleverly with the goal to solve problems and be built around the needs of the people who’s problems they are trying to solve.

Key Consideration

One of the most prominent initiatives in Taipei is its innovation on mobility. Taipei has one of the world’s smartest public transportation systems. From the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit to their YouBike public bike share network, Taipei has found effective solutions to solving mobility and livability in the city. They have even expanded from inner city mobility to intercity mobility by connecting multiple transportation systems together.

Beyond that, they have also implement an EasyCard that unifies its numerous transportation services. It uses a simple rechargeable card to conveniently pay fares on public transportation and to make payments at a rapidly increasing number of vending machines, shops and restaurants. The EasyCard is extremely accessible and free for all citizens to that point that 89% of the population owns a EasyCard in Taipei.


This presents itself as an exciting opportunity area to implement new urban systems that work and adapt to existing products and technologies.
Key Findings

The urgency and relevancy of the issues being tackled by the proposed project, in addition to the simplicity and affordability of the solution is a strong enough incentive for citizens to adopt and participate.

“Charity” isn’t a strong enough customer proposition for people to switch from their old EasyCard to the proposed card. Instead, more emphasis should be placed on “investment” and how much can gained from it.

Transparency is key especially around where the money is going towards, what the candidate selection process is for these new social housing properties, as well as how the distribution of investment returns work.

I conducted a survey with the intention of gauging the public’s interest and willingness to partake in this project. I took the opportunity to answer key uncertainties as well as possible risks and ways to mitigate it. With a total of 39 responses from a combination of working professionals, families, and students residing in Taipei, the results indicate a mostly favorable and supportive response.

Community Response
User Controlled

A user controlled experience focuses on putting investment at the forefront, allowing users to control and build their own investment portfolio by selecting which homes they invest their funds in. This is an active investment experience.

User Contributed

A user contributed experience focuses on putting charity first and investment second. This is an automated experience where investments are made on behalf of the users. Users contribute funds and are then able to monitor and track earnings. This is a more casual investment experience.

When thinking about the user experiences involved into this new system, I wanted to design a mobile app that aims to provide transparency on government activity and the flow of money. The main goals including to allow users to track where their donation is being invested in, the status of purchase, as well as manage their earnings.  I narrowed down the scope of the product into two categories;

As part of ensuring the success of this initiative, it is important to design public advertisement that will quickly inform and draw attention from the public. I came up a direction focused on highlighting the project as an exciting investment opportunity. I wanted to utilize illustrations and animations to not only draw attention but also convey a story that summarizes the investment experience. I ended up with an isometric design that plays heavily on color .  

I started designing several of the key screens and iterations for each based on the two different approaches I’ve defined. The first two screens are for the User Controlled approach, the home page shows the user how much funds they have left along with the different property investment opportunities to select from. On the other hand, the next two screens show a User Contributed approach where there is only one investment target.

In the end, I decided to shift my focus to the User Contributed approach. I felt that this approach simplified the user experience by reducing the scope of the App. With an assigned investment target, the Government will have more control over which property is being purchased and will also have the power to channel community efforts into raising funds for one property at a time, allowing for the conversions of these private developments into public social housing at a more efficient rate.

Defining the User Experience
Generating Public Interest
How might we convert Taipei’s Private Housing to Social Housing?

There are currently many interesting housing ownership models that involves co-ownership such as London’s Help to Buy program and Brown University’s Brown to Brown Home ownership. Using these co-ownership models, I developed a refined concept that takes form as a community investment program to help government purchase privately owned housing and help increase housing affordability.

The final concept explores a “pay-it-forward” strategy that leverages the vast network and high utilization of the EasyCard. This concept introduces a new type of “charity investment card” where cardholders roundup or add an extra dollar when ever they take the bus, metro, or use the card in general, to invest in social initiatives.

Improving housing affordability can be tackled through many different ways, modular construction, compact living and even co-location construction. However with the case of Taiwan, where significant amounts of existing housing development are privately bought and sold but still remain unoccupied, I wanted to design a solution that would utilize these existing private housing to increase the availability of social housing in Taipei.

With the intention of helping citizens in the lowest income bracket, who live paycheck to paycheck and aren’t able to buy a home, the investment model focuses on increasing housing affordability through reduced rent. This works by having the city government take the community funding to purchase homes from private developments and convert them into Public Housing for registered Low Income earners. For investors, this model provide more immediate and steady flow of returns in the form of rent. Hence providing a stronger incentive for the public to partake in this initiative.

Senior Citizens
Single 20s, 30s
Nowhere to downsize

Limited access to public housing

Housing discrimination
No motivation for independence

No savings; live paycheck to paycheck

Expensive nursing homes

Cities are getting more and more expensive. With over half the world’s population now living in urban environments, the intersection between design and technology has become fundamental to making cities more sustainable, affordable, and efficient.

With a concept of the system, user interface as well as marketing assets completed, I moved on to designing a proposal booklet (embedded below) with the intention of showing the people at EasyCard Corp and the Taipei City Government to receive feedback and conduct a feasibility test.

The effected population lies mostly with young working people and senior citizens. While there are emerging housing models that aim to support these target groups, the dominating private housing developments make it challenging to sustain and expand.

Focus Demographic
Challenge
Opportunity
Solution
Systems Design
UI/UX

Role
Self-Led Project

Ambition
How might we rethink urban housing models to increase housing affordability in Taipei?

Rethinking
Urban Housing
Models
EasyInvest
Having one of the World’s lowest price to income ratio, housing inequality remains a pressing issue in Taiwan.
Putting it Together
Taipei is emerging as one of the world’s leading innovators of urban planning and design, green architecture, public transportation and smart technology.

While most of the housing in Taiwan are privately bought and sold, only 10% are being legally rented, and due to lack of funding and land, only 0.1% are Government owned social housing 

A lot of these privately owned homes remain unoccupied due low rental yields, housing discrimination, foreign investments, and price inflations

Newer housing models such as Co-Living, provide better and more affordable living experiences, however currently, can only provide around 100 spaces, barely enough to house everyone in need of decent affordable housing.  

Underground market landlords enjoy Tax evasion while tenants, particularly young people and senior citizens, are taken advantaged of and are living in substandard “snail” housing without protection or rent subsidy

The underground rental market has a volume 10x the official market due to lax home rental regulations

Key Findings
Introducing EasyInvest
Thank you for reading

Currently at Doblin, I’ve been immersed in design research – uncovering innate user needs to deliver transformative business solutions, brought to life with intuitive and delightful digital experiences.

Previously at
Growsquares, I helped pushed the possiblities for urban gardening. Blending together physical and digital interactions to enhance and differientiate their product experience.

Right before that at Apple and Figmints, I worked with interdisciplinary teams to design impactful and interactive brand and marketing solutions.  

A while ago, I graduated from the
Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Industrial and Product Design with a concentration in Creative Computation, Technology & Culture.

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