Back in July, you may remember we met with Steven Gray from UCL, who worked on the Qrator project at the Grant Museum. Steven kindly took us to his office at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and told us about a number of projects he was working on including a pigeon simulator- where we got to fly through the streets of London as a pigeon (you’ll understand when you read the other blog!!) Steven also told us about Survey Mapper, an online polling site which uses real time mapping to analyse results. Survey Mapper can also be used with an Xbox Kinect which allows people to vote using bodily movements such as waving at a screen in order to cast their vote. Steven is working on Survey Mapper as part of his PhD so was looking for a setting to test this out and as we are super keen to experiment with new forms of engagement, it seemed perfect for Survey Mapper to be tested at the People’s History Museum.
We were hoping that Survey Mapper would offer us the chance to ask questions of our visitors, much like what we’ve been doing with the blackboard questions we’ve been putting up outside Gallery One (here’s an example). Visitors are asked a question on Survey Mapper and given a number of options on which to respond. Additionally, visitors are then shown the proportions of other votes and therefore the programme would quantify our results for us by displaying a graph of previous votes.
We decided to install Survey Mapper into the museum foyer during POLLfest, a weekend of political events organised to celebrate Parliament Week, whose theme in 2013 was women in democracy. We therefore posed the question on this theme, and asked;
How can we increase the number of female MPs?
The possible answers were;
It will naturally happen
We don’t need any more female MPs.
Here’s what our visitors had to say…
Over the mid-November week, we had a total of 43 responses to our question, somewhat lower that what we would have hoped given the extra visitors we had attending our POLLfest events. Our Front of House team, who saw Survey Mapper in daily use, had some suggestions as to why this might be. Survey Mapper using Kinect is in its early stages, and the system shutting itself down seemed to be an issue- whether this was down to the software, the wifi not being able to support this extra use, or the Kinect itself not working properly, this seemed to be the main barrier to access. Our Gallery Assistants also commented on the fact that the physical nature of voting with bodily movements, or the technological aspect of the Kinect didn’t capture our visitors’ attention any more than the traditional blackboard. After all, many may enjoy the process of writing their answer out, and not picking from a list.
We really enjoyed testing Survey Mapper out at PHM during POLLfest, it added something new to our programme of events which spanned the weekend, and found it taught us some interesting lessons in user engagement when using high tech and low tech methods.