Welcome to Groupshot

Today marks the official launch of Groupshot: Technology for Informality. When we first began considering current practices of development and design we were intrigued with finding a new way to strike a balance in our work. Just about a year ago, when we first asked how to engage an informal urban settlement with technology, we began to tease out the usual strand of questions: What makes this community unique? Is there anything inherently different about the community because it is informal? Is informality a defining or actionable condition?

Different fields of development have considered the nature of informality for decades–urban informal settlements have been the sites of countless interventions and formalization processes; the informal http://www.oakleyonorder.com/economy is an increasingly visible and empowered force for development. In both of these cases there is uncertainty about how to engage these communities.

Our first impulse was to look at how informality is dealt with. In all of these fields a lot of effort and projects have been dedicated to formalizing these informal populations and systems–from massive titling projects in slums to new employment regulations and policies for the informal economy. Small organizations and large businesses meanwhile have been working to deliver services to their communities through new local formalized delivery processes.

While many are working to critique and formalize aspects of the informal settings, others have romanticized this community. Informal systems are notoriously inventive and creative–the can-do attitude yields dynamic solutions to local challenges. The nature of ‘community’ and inherent sustainability of these areas yield models of growth that are admirable for many outsiders. And yet these systems are far from adequate for fulfilling all but the most basic human needs, if that.

As we dug further into these topics of informality we were able to identify more and more of an idea of the positive services, the postive externalities of informality, and at the same time recognize the inefficiencies and shortcomings that could be improved by scalable interventions. Our conclusion was that formalization is a process which can bring new and important opportunities to some of the most desperate communities around the world–but formalization, if done right doesn’t need to destroy all of the benefits that informality embodies.

A compelling statistic from UN-Habitat illustrates that more than half a billion people are living in informal urban settlements — many more rurally. This number is only expected to skyrocket over the next few decades. Informality is not going away, and it shouldn’t. But instead, through a hybrid formalization process, we can maintain some of the best aspects of informal systems in parallel with the benefits of formal systems–better yet these informal systems can support the formal and yield new scalable innovations for development, businesses, services, and even  improve the quality of life for people across geographies.

Groupshot recognizes that a new paradigm in development, and a new and sensitive process of formalization, can yield more effective practices and service delivery for populations cheap oakley sunglasses within variations of informality. By designing and researching new tools and processes which create micro-formalizations, the precise interventions which enhance informal systems and share them with outsiders, we are developing a new way to engage this growing population, just in time for its demographic densification.

As we continue this process of design, development, and exploration we hope to share our thinking, projects, and experience with you here on our blog, in meetings, as clients and partners, teachers and students, and with communities around the world.

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