Welcome to Week 3. Below are your materials for Activities 1 and 2. You will find instructions for these activities in your Miro Board. Activity 3 takes place entirely on your Miro Board.

Welcome to the Tea Strainer#

“The Tea Strainer” is a fictional building. “Tea Strainer” is the name local residents have given the distinctive renovated headquarters of the Crowea local council – a three story multi-use office and co-working space built inside the skeleton of a historic flour factory. Your activities for this session will take place in the fictional world of “The Tea Strainer”.

Activity One: Learning to observe the human, the environmental and the technological#

Your materials#

  • written descriptions
  • images
  • sound

Your instructions#

  1. read, look and listen to your materials individually for five minutes
  2. choose a scribe for your group
  3. note down every example of: agent/agenda/process/infrastructure/data—these can be observed (explicit in the text/image/audio) or inferred from the scenario

Time: 20 minutes (5 minutes reading, 15 minute note-taking)

Snapshots from a Day in the Life of “The Tea Strainer”#

9am, Tea Strainer ground floor: the doors have opened, and some residents of Crowea have arrived. This headquarters handles appointments for everything from paying parking fines to registering for parent groups. At the front door, a man pushing a pram checks in using a QR code and is directed to a numbered office.

A delivery service truck carrying a large wooden crate is backing into the loading dock behind the building. When the workers manage to squeeze the crate into the service elevator a loud persistent beeps starts; the crate is interfering with the sensors that monitor whether there’s any obstructions in the doorway. Eventually, a beep-weary office worker who sits close to the elevator wanders over and shows them how to disable the sensor so that they can get on their way. She considers posting a sign with instructions and then sighs; the architects who recently completed the renovation are still showing visitors around and will object to any sign cluttering their design.

11:21am, Tea Strainer top floor: The top floor is still under construction. This space is going to be for local community groups to hold events and meetings. So far, interested groups include a Polish dancing club; a chemistry club; a local alcoholics anonymous chapter and a playgroup.

Downstairs, a citizenship ceremony is being livestreamed for relatives and friends watching from afar. Ngunnawal elder Aunty Jill welcomes the gathering to Country, and invites Ngunnawal spirits into the building in language. Her voice reverberates through the central atrium, muting the first hailstones falling outside.

1:46pm, Tea Strainer exterior: The Head of Operations and the rest of the executive are inspecting the windows and roof of The Tea Strainer. Those hail stones turned into a powerful storm, shattering car windows, shredding trees and breaking skylights in the new building. Water is leaking through the ground floor ceiling, and some employees have hastily put buckets underneath it. Several solar panel arrays on the roof seem to have been damaged. The building’s distinctive silver window panels, sensing sunlight and adjusting shade into the building’s interior, have stopped.

3:17 am, ground floor: At this early hour, the building is empty except for a security guard at the front door. The background hum of the chillers, the fans, the trickle of the leaky toilet at the north end of the second floor, the occasional splashes of bright light from forgotten desk lamps are all that can be observed. Suddenly, the security guard notices lights flicker on and off in the delivery bay at the back of the ground floor of the Tea Strainer. She goes to investigate, and encounters possums – again – creeping across the floor having squeezed under the exterior door grating. She dials the possum catcher. This will be the possum catcher’s second trip out to The Tea Strainer in a month – only a week ago the construction workers on the top floor found possums sleeping in the newly installed ventilation shafts.

Implementing Distancing AI#

Activity Two: Examining an AI-enabled system in its human, environmental and technical context#

Your materials#

  • Written scenario

Your instructions#

  • Read through the proposed Distancing AI technology solution
  • Choose a scribe for your group.
  • As per Activity 1, note down every example of an agent, agenda, process, infrastructure and data you observe or infer in the scenario

Time: 15 minutes

Managing social distancing requirements at scale with Distancing AI#

The Crowea Local Council is making a number of adjustments to The Tea Strainer as it transitions to living with COVID. One of the areas the Council is exploring is using AI-enabled technologies to help monitor and manage social distancing requirements in the building.

The Council is exploring Distancing AI, a system that uses sensors to monitor occupancy levels on each floor of the building. If there are too many people in a space, an automated alarm will sound, alerting people that they will have to move elsewhere. Social distancing rules have already changed quite a bit, and Ruth Mitra, the Head of Operations, hopes that moving to an automated solution will help respond to changes quickly and cut down the amount of time facilities staff spend updating signage around the Tea Strainer. She also hopes the system will remove the burden of responsibility from security guards and council staff to constantly be monitoring people in a physical space, and having to initiate what can be awkward conversations requesting that people move elsewhere.

While the Council is looking at implementing Distancing AI to help with social distancing requirements, it sees a lot of other potential for the technology. It could help monitor service desks on the ground floor and make sure there are enough staff to manage citizen appointments; it could be used to monitor how exits are used during fire drills and estimate how many people are on various floors of the building during a fire. It could even be used to help manage things like office and toilet cleaning, deploying cleaners based on fluctuations in occupancy of a space.

The Council is very conscious of privacy, which is why it’s opted for a system that tracks movement and heat instead of one that uses image recognition, which would require video cameras in every room. Distancing AI will provide the Council with a dashboard and data feeds to monitor occupancy levels in real time. The Council is excited about how Distancing AI could be integrated with other AI-enabled systems helping make the Tea Strainer a living, adjusting building around the citizens and staff it serves.

This system is heavily inspired by real world building occupancy service, Density. You can read more about it here

Activity 3#

Please head back to your Miro board, your activity instructions are there.

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

bars search times arrow-up