Natural Disaster Relief Project and Service Design

After weeks of interviews and gaining understanding of Natural Disasters I have narrowed the focus of our IDSE 203 class project down. So far the focus has been researching natural disasters and the impact they have on a community. This has led into many areas of the current relief efforts for the recent Onion Creek floods here in Austin. Moving forward the focus attention on understanding what available resources and next steps are communicated to survivors and how transparent and accessible that information is.

There are so many areas that can use attention and could use design research to better improve. The beginning of our research we focused on gaining an understanding of what the perspective of disaster responder and a survivor is like. To do this I got involved by working along side case managers with the Red Cross at an evacuation center. Doing this type of research allowed us to investigate current disaster relief efforts and the impact being made first hand.

During the research I was able to get to see what it is like from their shoes. Being exposed to the environment a relief worker goes through in order to assist those in need is an experience I will forget. The long days, changing elements, crowds of people, and being so busy that many times the first meal of the day is at 7 pm is difficult. There are many people doing great work to help in rebuilding a community.

Piecing together the stories and events of a disaster we hope to uncover how communities rebuild together. The focus on communicating resources is something that design can help to empower the rebuilding efforts. Below is a service design model that outlines what it is like for a survivor of a natural disaster, it can also be viewed on the link here. By putting the experiences through different design lenses the hope is to expose design opportunities. The service model is one of the tools that helped gain an understanding that communication is an area that has breakdowns. This is highlighted in the flowchart in the area of leaving an evacuation center and returning to an evacuation center. The hope is to discover ways to close the looping that happens for survivors back into the system.