Session type:
Case Study

Session duration:
45 minutes

Presented by:

Aly Blenkin

Pivotal Labs

Ellie Ereira

Pivotal Labs

About this Case Study

What role does design play in an overpopulated world, where temperatures are continuing to rise and there are mass movements of people due to conflicts and natural disasters? How do you create technology when the problems we are designing for traverse borders, sectors and cultures? To answer these questions, we will unpack some of the systemic issues involving humans, heat and hygiene.

We will share our experiences of exploring problems around sanitation design in refugee camps, building resilience for cyclones and floods in coastal cities and coordinating emergency humanitarian responses. Through co-designing solutions with large NGOs, we will explain how we applied a systems thinking approach and critically examined the ethics of our methods.

Though these problems may seem insurmountable, we believe that we can apply and adapt our design-led practices to make a positive difference in our ever changing world.

About the Speakers

Aly Blenkin

Aly is a senior product designer at Pivotal in London and co-leads Pivotal Act, a new division dedicated to building technology that addresses social, humanitarian and environmental issues.

Prior to Pivotal, Aly worked at ThoughtWorks in NYC and Toronto, and in academia at Parsons The New School for Design. She has worked on projects in areas such as sanitation in refugee camps, rapid onset emergency planning, access to education for undocumented people, healthcare and renewable energy.

Aly holds a masters in transdisciplinary design from Parsons in New York, where she was a recipient of the Rockefeller grant and was a finalist for the Fast Company Innovation awards. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in industrial design from the University of Alberta and in service design at the Köln International School of Design in Germany.


Ellie Ereira

Ellie is a senior product manager and Pivotal Act co-lead, with a passion for building technology that makes a positive social impact. She has tackled this problem in many different sectors, including at the World Bank, UK-based start-up OpenSignal, the US Department of Energy and in academia. She has worked on projects such as setting up incubators in the Caribbean for clean tech entrepreneurs, and distributing mobile apps to map cell signals in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Ellie has a masters in technology and policy from MIT and studied physics for her undergraduate degree at Oxford University.


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