OBJECTIVE: Concept development and paper prototype
TEAM: Andrew Haskin & Shalini Sardana
ROLE: Concept Development, research & strategy, story-boarding, interaction design, visual design and prototyping.
DURATION: 4 weeks
Create a novel interactive experience that depends, in some pivotal way, upon the collective.The goal was to unearthing new possibilities for how we and our technologies might interact in the future.
In the wake of super-storm Sandy which was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 and also the second-costliest hurricane in United States history, one thing surprised everyone: people turn to the internet during emergencies. Despite power outage, people were connected through tweets, videos, images, blogs etc. Google.org launched first of a kind, interactive Hurricane Sandy crisis map for people to share information about power outages, shelters, weather conditions etc. Inspired by this technology and its application, we designed outReach - a disaster support mobile app that can leverage the power of crowd-sourcing and peer-to-peer networking to help emergency responders, victims on the ground as well as people searching for loved ones during a natural disaster.
outReach is a mobile app that allows anyone to provide critical contextual information about the affected area that can help victims or workers on the ground.Since emergency responses are critical in the first 72 hours of a natural disaster, outReach can help identify dangerous areas to avoid, shelter locations, shared resources that other citizens offer to help and tracking missing persons by allowing them to 'check-in' and tag who they are with at anytime.
We approached the project by understanding the breadth of the Google Crisis Map.
By leveraging multiple live datasets and layering them on a map interface (accessible from a computer with internet access), Google Crisis Map became an important resource for people before, during, and after SANDY. The map not only tracked the weather, including the projected course of the hurricane, but provided the location of refuge shelters, Red Cross centers, and the availability of fuel at nearby gas stations.
Expand by adding user-generated content:
Our project is an initiative to expand on the capabilities of Google Crisis Map by adding an additional layer of user-generated content. We were inspired by social networking applications such as Twitter and Facebook, which are becoming reliable sources for documenting and publishing news and events on site as they are happening. Because most people in Western society are equipped with mobile smart devices, we saw an opportunity to not only provide contextually relevant information to people during a crisis, but also provide them with the tools to capture, publish, and even update information in real-time.
Create user scenarios and personas
Who would benefit from such an app - victims of disasters, their families and loved-ones and even other good samartians who want to help the community.
Prototype as a mobile app with a map interface
We chose to create a mobile application prototype to demonstrate our concept. Through a map interface, we want people to see how the application would identify the user's current location, as well as present the user with relevant data. Layers of information can be turned on and off. Symbols on the map can be expanded to reveal additional information, including the ability to update that information. By visualizing hazards on a map, routes to safety can be better navigated. People directly involved but not in danger can post useful resources they can provide, such as the availability of power to charge electronic devices, as was seen post Hurricane Sandy. Outside family or friends might be able to locate loved ones from afar through an integrated check-in system, where people in the affected area can tag others they're with.
This exploration only touches the surface of what's possible for a mobile disaster response application. Problems such as the availability of Internet are not addressed here, but one might speculate that in the near future an emergency adhoc internet network might be established through a deployed swarm of robot drones. How do people with "dumb" phones access and provide information to this network? There are many questions to address. Let the conversation commence.