2nd Annual Design Research Conference: Real/Material/Ethereal
3 & 4 October 2019 at Monash University Melbourne.

Solar Lighting Namoi and Gingie Reserves: Exploring socio-technical relations through outdoor lighting’
This paper is an evaluation of an in-progress, action research project centred on the design and implementation of forty solar street lights within Namoi and Gingie Aboriginal reserves. Investigating socio-technical relations within the context of discrete Indigenous communities, this research explores the capacity of urban infrastructure to provide benefits to remote Aboriginal communities. Funded by the Department of Justice and carried out in partnership with the Walgett Local Aboriginal Land Council, the research is being conducted through a comparative, longitudinal study. It sets out to evaluate the ability of solar outdoor lighting to be responsive to community needs, and tests the potential of outdoor lighting to increase wellbeing by decreasing vandalism, theft, snake bites, emergency services visitation, and call-out times.
Whilst action research is the primary method for conducting the research, a range of supplementary research methods have been incorporated to evaluate the social impacts of the lighting implementation, including semi-structured interviews with residents and emergency services; the intent is to compare emergency services data pre- and post-installation.
Exploring the interconnections between people and objects, the data collected is interpreted through a socio-material perspective that seeks to reveal insights into the interactions and entanglements between urban infrastructure and social formation. Through the examination of human/non-human networks in Namoi and Gingie Reserves, the research aims to extend socio-technical discourse whilst developing new knowledge and transferable design methodologies and processes for further implementation and advancement of discrete Indigenous communities of Australia.

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