Technologies Are Meeting People at Our Place
Psychologists and sociologist participate on specialized activities of the University Centre of Energy-Efficient Buildings of the CTU together with representatives of many technical professions. Although it can sound somewhat strange to many people, the engagement of experts from the field of social sciences in the work of the research institute focused on sustainable construction is well-justified.
Our psychological-sociological team focuses on users of energy-efficient technologies or buildings. Primarily, their opinions and needs including general effects of various solutions are examined. Sometimes, the team carries out user research and participative planning. In other projects, function specifications of buildings or strategic documents for cities in the Smart City area are prepared.
In the framework of user research, psychologists and sociologists apply various methods of gathering information, such as inquiries, individual or group interviews, or visual approaches like feeling maps (respondents use them to show the inquirers the places in their environment that they are proud of, where they use to go for relax and sport, or where they do not feel and safe, where parking is not good etc.). Our team always tries to choose the best possible way with respect to the target group and the aim of the project. This was also the case when preparing the reconstruction of the health care center in Mnichovice.
The team often uses other methods of participation (engaging the inhabitants in decision-making) as well. This can be used mainly when preparing functional specifications of buildings where current traffic (who moves where, what activities are carried out, what is needed for them and so on) is mapped by our team first, and then enhancement is proposed. When designing new constructions, this specification is prepared from scratch.
On top of preparatory stages of constructions of public buildings and the wide Smart City area, other topics like public space or sustainable constructions are addressed, too. The team also works on less technical projects, for example on innovations in social services or creation of applications for people with limited abilities of moving, for example the new route planner. In recent years, they have also managed to expand the cooperation with companies dealing with local power industry and with production of energy from renewable sources.
Our psychologists and sociologists (as representatives of the area of social sciences) are present everywhere where people are meeting technologies so that technically perfect and, at the same time, user-friendly solutions can be developed at our place.