How do you better prepare people for disaster using mobile technology?
blacked out manhattan monday night
A timely question with Sandy fresh in our minds. However, that question was triggered by this story: In 2011, strategic design consultancy RKS took the lead and worked with interactive agency InterFUEL to address an issue they had faced themselves: the anxiety of being without news from a relative involved in a natural disaster, and the lack of preparedness to face those issues. It all started with InterFUEL partner Takeshi Horiuchi sharing his experience with the earthquake in Japan. “When I found out about the disaster on TV, I started trying to connect with my in-laws in Japan in any possible way. However, for the next couple of countless and sleepless days, I had no luck connecting with them. Torn between fear and hope, I watched the news showing the familiar scenes nearby their hometown. Then, finally, my brother sent me a short text message saying my relatives made it home, and they are OK…. what a BIG relief!”
Inability to reach out to family is not the only issue; further research by the RKS team unveiled a deficit of preparedness within the US population. Indeed, more than 50% of US households have no family emergency plan, and confidence in healthcare’s response capabilities has continually dropped over the last decade. RKS looked at what was needed to create a world where individuals are prepared, connected, informed, and hopeful. A smartphone app appeared to be the simplest way to connect during a disaster, help with relief coordination, and provide a platform to channel goodwill. To learn more about the features of the Hope App concept, you may refer to the [ case study ] on RKS website.
What if the new best practice for firms was empowering employees to make a significant change?
Google’s “20% Innovation Time” policy allows employees to dedicate one fifth of their time to developing projects of their own, and give them a chance to make an impact. Along the same line, environmentally friendly outdoor gear company Patagonia funds salaries and benefits to employees who volunteer for an environmental group. These opportunities strengthen the company’s brand image; increase staff motivation, and have a positive impact.
Red Cross’ recent launch of four mobile apps that prepare citizens for natural disasters is a good illustration of how user experience design can expand the capabilities of Non Governmental Organizations.
According to Ravi Sawhney, founder and CEO at the strategic design consultancy RKS, designers have the power to make an impact more than any profession. “What designers do best is creating visions of what could be and should be. By collaborating with non-profits and other organizations, we have the power to bring our dreams to life and make the world better.” [ rks ] [ red cross ]