Blog post 3/17

  1. Summarize and report out on the results of the SKS exercise. 


We all agreed that we wanted to start having better communication within our team. This includes more frequent check-ins over text to make sure we are all getting done what needs to be done. We also want to start having a meeting with just us (our group), in addition to the meeting with Khanjan, so that we can talk in person to check-in. By meeting, we can assign roles and start looking deeper and at different sectors of Smart Cities in our research. But most importantly, we want to start communicating with our partners in Kazakhstan over the Whatsapp that was created. We will start to get a better understanding of Almaty if we all respond effectively to their texts.

At this point in our project, we want to keep working on our mid-semester presentations, dividing work/delegating work well, learning what we can about Kazakhstan and current smart innovations, and keeping our contact with the KazNU students and continuing to ask them lots of questions. At this time, we especially want to focus on continuing to put in a lot of time into our Engineering for Change articles and our other publications to make them as good as possible. We can do this by helping our other team members by editing and offering suggestions.

What we need to stop doing is depending too much on Khanjan’s guidance, and just go for it instead. We believe we need to stop being told directly what to research and just start reading whatever we can to explore ideas and gain as much knowledge as we can about the topic. We also want to stray from completing things just to meet the deadline, but rather taking the time to do it completely and most effectively to better advance our project.


Team Name: Smart Cities  Date: 3/17
  • Project Goal: To create a smart innovation that can be efficiently used by most of the citizens in Almaty, that will make some aspect of their lives easier/better.
    • To measure the success of our project, we need to collect data on how many people use the innovation, and possibly do interviews to see how people think it has changed their lives.
  • Personal Goal (Alli): To broaden my knowledge on smart innovations and gain a better understanding of the culture in Almaty and how we can use our skills to help make the city smarter.
  • Personal Goal (Ugochi): To understand the in-depth process behind successful and impactful smart innovations, and leave the project with an ability to implement similar innovations in other cities.
  • Personal Goal (Tommy): To understand the process and methodology behind creating a solution to existing issues. Learn the steps it takes to successfully implement a social venture that impacts the lives of people. 
  • All of us are expected to have an Engineering for Change article published, along with another partner article published on another forum. 
  • Right now we are all researching innovations we think will work in Almaty, but once we decide what we are doing more specifically, then we can create subgroups.
  • Right now, especially because our group is pretty small, we depend on each other in almost every aspect of our project, so we don’t have a project manager at the time.
  • For decision making, I think we should strive for consensus, but if we hit a specifically difficult topic, then it might have to be majority rules.
  • Right now we have been doing a lot of communication online, and it seems like it is going to have to continue to be that way. However, as many zoom meetings, or “face-to-face” simulations we can have, the better.
  • For meeting roles, it depends on the meeting, as our roles will shift. However, usually we all do a good job of each taking notes, and all keeping time in mind, and facilitating together.
  • Our plan is to “meet” an additional time (aside from the one with Khanjan). As per what time works best for everyone, since we are all still getting home, we have to figure that out still (because we are in different time zones).
  • Everyone on our team has different strengths that play well into making us work effectively. We have various majors and disciplines across our team, including computer science, engineering, and international relations. This allows us to use each other’s strengths to solve any issues we may come across. We also all have different cultural backgrounds which help us look at everything with different perspectives.
  • Our team name is Smart Cities in Almaty.


3. Plan if we cannot do fieldwork in Kazakhstan this summer.


If we are unable to do fieldwork in Kazakhstan this summer, we will just continue to reach out to our partners in Kazakhstan more. We will have to depend on their knowledge and research of what the culture is in Almaty. If we planned to interview citizens of Almaty on how they believe they would respond to our (potential) innovation, we will just have to depend on our partners at KazNU to do that and report back to us. Of course we will be helping them the whole way too, but they will have to do the physical groundwork. 

If we are unable to go this summer, we may have to have a physical prototype of the innovation we are planning for the next opportunity we get to go to Kazakhstan. In other words, we will have to be a lot farther along in the process the next time we get to go and hope that we don’t have to go completely back to square one (that our innovation doesn’t completely fail).

One thought on “Blog post 3/17

  1. I think you hit on some important points about how helpful regular and face to face (even through Zoom) communication is. Both for your team and with your partners in Kazakhstan. If you are unable to go this summer, it might be helpful to revisit the list of 20 key questions you made for an earlier blog post and brainstorm what new questions you will need your partners’ help to answer to keep moving the project along. Hope you are well!

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