You First

An emergency response service channeling communication between relatives, rescue teams, and providing tailored information to users.

The Need for Better Emergency Response

On Feb 20th 2010, a severe flood stroke Madeira, causing 42 people dead, hundreds injured. This disaster revealed the importance of emergency response. Sponsored by the city hall, the project was to design a service for the government to respond better to natural disasters. I worked with 4 other team members on this project for the Service Design course and proposed the service to the City Hall.

Different Stages of a Disaster

We started our project by making a territory map showing different stages of a disaster. This helped us explore different opportunities for our service and narrow down our scope. We decided to focus on Rescue and Public Response, the stages in which our service could make the most impact.

To understand how people respond to natural disasters, we interviewed 10 people who had previously gone through a flood, and read twitter posts, blogs, and news about disasters including Hurricane Katrina occurred in the States, the 921 earthquake in Taiwan, the 2010 flood in Madeira, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.

Research Findings

From our research, we found that the communication between rescue teams and victims, or between victims and their family members, is critical but usually problematic for most of the disasters. There is no channel of communication between the public and the government to access information efficiently and accurately. People get anxious when losing contact with their relatives; the official wastes time in inefficient resource dispatch. This is where our service can make the most value: providing accurate and tailored information.

  1. Lack of communication between rescue team and victims
  2. Inaccurate or laggard public info
  3. Family's Safty is top concern

Our Solution

Crowd-Sourced data collection for resource dispatch

Acting as the information center, our service collects the photos, statuses, and voice notes users contribute in the early stage of a disaster. The official can take advantage of this crowd-sourcing information for evaluation and resource dispatch.


Direct Channel between victims and volunteers

After the disaster occurs, users get updates on the status of their family members, their properties, and instructions on what to do next based on their current location. The help button on the device creates a direct channel between victims and volunteers, making the rescue process more efficient.

The Device

To be used in any emergency scenario, the device for this service should be something the user would carry all the time. We picked watches and wallet-sized clip cards as ideal candidates, but for the purpose of this project, iPhones were used instead.

Button Colors

Blue - Get the latest update about the emergency from the system

Green - I'm OK button. User presses this button to let the system and relatives know they're safe

Yellow - Report an emergency to the system, which will then warn the users in that area

Red - Help button. Pressing this button will flag this user as a victim and alert the rescue team

Designing the Experience

After defining the service structure, we mapped out the customer journey with all the touch points users will go through. We also made service blueprint detailing the information flow between users and the backend for each touch point.

To show the interaction between family members, we created two personas: father and son. Our storyboards further visualized the service and put the whole team on the same page. By going through these steps, we were able to cut down unnecessary features and ensure that our service supports the vision we had.

High Fidelity Mockups

Evaluation: Role Play Enactment

Green Alert - Suggesting User to Go Home


How to Coordinate a place to meet?

Video Prototype