When disaster strikes, the first thing that residents do is try to contact their loved ones or call for help. What happens when connectivity networks are unable to cope with the unexpected surge, or worse, are themselves damaged by the disaster?
Anchor was nominated to the Shortlist of Interaction Awards 2018 in the 'Disrupting: Capturing attention, creating delight and delivering meaning' category.
It was August 25, 2005 and I was living in New Orleans. Everything I took for granted was gone in a flash. It was a year where my grandparents, friends, neighbors and residents of New Orleans lost their house and livelihoods, from the flooding in the aftermath of Katrina. Katrina wasn't a one off, with climate change happening rapidly disasters are more frequent around the globe.
This was my thesis project at the School of Visual Arts, MFA Interaction Design.
Duration: 8 Months
Role: Researcher, designer, developer
Advisors: Mayo Nissen, Eric Forman, Liz Danzico
Goals that I wanted to achieve for my thesis:
/ Easy access during a crisis
/ Give residents updates & information
/ Both physical and digital aspects
/ Responsive mobile website
/ A service that city provides for free
To view my full process of my thesis project, you can download
my process book or visit my thesis blog.
I had to overcome many challenges during my thesis process. I was a bit surprised when everything fell in to place in the end. Creating the physical part of Anchor was the most challenging, because I don not have an industrial background. I did not know how to draw a 3D model or where to begin. I created many cardboard prototypes with trial and error.
Communication and Connectivity
There are many problems around disasters and disaster preparedness. There are lot of ways to tackling these issues. One of the challenges that I am tackling is connectivity and communication. People don't know enough and the infrastructure is unreliable.
/ In a moment of a crisis, people do not know what's going on.
/ People were unable to get in touch with family and loved ones.
/ And they weren't able to asked for help from anyone.
During a crisis, a person not knowing what's going on becomes very anxious. Multiply that with thousands of people in a city and it becomes a chaotic situation. This impedes disaster relief efforts.
Anchor: Your local information network for when disaster strikes.
Anchor creates an infrastructure of a wireless mesh network, where residents are able to connect to an information and communication service accessible through their phone. It is a multi-part product installed by the city for residents. The information service is a mobile website, where residents are able to prepare and plan for the next disaster and when a disaster does strike check for emergency updates and connect with city agencies.
The lamp posts around the city will carry and spread the local network, they will be self-sufficient with its very own solar panels. There are over 250,000 street-lights in New York City. After an emergency these tall objects are one of the few things that are still standing. Most of the time they have lost power, but that is not always the case.
I want to install Anchor on a lamp post, because during my research found out that these are one of the things that are still standing after a disaster.
During an Emergency
Anchor (Object) will be on no matter the weather condition. During a black out, you will see an illumination on certain lamp post. Since Anchor is not part of the cities grid, this will not be effected by a blackout. The illumination that turns on and off represents our breathing pattern to help anxious residents to be more calmer.
Emergency mode: As soon as the user connects to the Anchor wifi, it will take them to an acknowledgment page. It states, that it is a public wifi and will only ask for your location.
Homepage: On the homepage, users care able to call 911, use the pre-program buttons that takes you to the city agency chat room, view city agencies that are online and updates on twitter. Finally, a map of subway status and streets to avoid.
Chat feature during emergency mode: The emergency versions core feature is the chat, where users can easily chat with city agencies and disaster relief organizations.
Everyday: Vast majority of the time Anchor is on non-emergency.
Homepage: In a non-emergency, Anchor will help you prepare before a disaster strikes, educate you about climate change and show you past natural disasters that happened in your location.
Make a plan: Store emergency cash, pack a go bag, have a copy of your important documents.
Local Resources: Links to local government agencies.
Sketches of Physical Object
My prototypes need a lot of work, especially in the form or shape of the design. This has been a struggle for me since I don’t have an ID background. In addition, I need to explore the interaction part of my design and there are so many questions that need to be answered.
Sketches of the Mobile Site
SVA IXD Thesis Presentation
Presenting Anchor at SVA's 2017 MFA Interaction Design thesis festival: Wonderful Behaviors