Dear Neighbor

An alternative model for emergency volunteering

ABSTRACT: Unanticipated disasters produce challenges that threaten human life, but also human rights and social justice. Designers are responsible for deploying creative strategies that respond to the changing conditions of such situations in crisis. Utilizing a collaborative approach, we employed an Alternative Unknowns method to facilitate designers working across disciplines to investigate, experiment, propose, and test systems. The concept is articulated through research, ideation, prototyping, and visual service map.

Collaborators: Melika Alipour & Sophie Riendeau

Partnership: Office of Emergency Management NYC

Facilitator: Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons School of Design

  Kiosk   //  A prototype kiosk with a mock-up interface of the Dear Neighbor service design. Photo from a simulation prototype event.

Kiosk  //  A prototype kiosk with a mock-up interface of the Dear Neighbor service design. Photo from a simulation prototype event.

 

Concept: Dear Neighbor

A service design proposal in the public space for local communities of New York to feel empowered by instilling a sense of civic duty; informing and connecting them to support each other during a time of hardship. Through the service, users can use their personality traits to begin establishing a community in their neighborhoods. Collateral components include a service kiosk with user engagement touchpoints, identification badges, and communication devices for community engagement. The process below highlights phases of discovery, development, and simulation of the proposal.

 

Service Mapping

The team approach was to create the service design to facilitate the development of community during blue sky days. The small clip displays potential human engagement with the service design proposal. Below is a drafted blueprint of user engagement touchpoints

  User Blueprint   //  Early draft of user-engagement touchpoints 

User Blueprint  //  Early draft of user-engagement touchpoints 

Collateral for Service

  Badges   //  Personality card sets.

Badges  //  Personality card sets.

  Personality Tag   //  Detachable keychain tags.

Personality Tag  //  Detachable keychain tags.

  Activity Sample   //  A printed example of a story vignette for users to practice personality skill sets.

Activity Sample  //  A printed example of a story vignette for users to practice personality skill sets.


Discovery

"We researched historical urban disaster case studies as well as the strategies devised to manage them. Each case was studied through the lens of the four-stage emergency cycle; preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.  Looking into newly developed or deployed tactics, technologies, and policies in each case, we scanned to understand what worked and what didn’t. Therefore, we identified the failings challenges that still must be worked on as we confront the possibility of dealing with these situations in New York. Our main focus was on understanding the social justice implications in these emergency scenarios, particularly in regard to resource distribution and language access.

Our investigations into human caused disasters such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and naturally-occurring events such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal brought us valuable insights on successes and failures of past events. As the second part of the research, our team shared individual observations to identify patterns and grouped them according to recurring themes to be addressed in moving forward: context systems of organization, community, memory, communication, information and psychology." – Transdisciplinary Studio, Fall 2016

Inspiring Insights for Dear Neighbor

Boaters saved 500,000 New Yorkers from the World Trade Center site on the day the towers collapsed.
— 9/11, New York City, 2001
Small gestures such as providing food from origin’s home country can play a significant role in comforting people during difficult times.
— NY AA Flight 587 crash, 2001
During disasters, public spaces play an extremely important role in the emergency and reconstruction phases. Streets and plazas are used not only as shelters but also as strategic points for the collection of food and organization for reconstruction works.
People with no formal training in emergency relief can be the most helpful in saving people’s lives. Eg: Mole Brigade - a group of citizens that searched collapsed buildings for victims.
— Earthquake, Mexico City, 1985
Even today there is trauma with any situation similar to Sandy or warning of a possible storm/flood. There wasn’t enough long-term psychological help for residents of low-income communities that cannot pay for medical service.
— Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Research Synthesis & Stakeholder Analysis

 

Ideation Phase

Team members independently drafted potential response ideations in case of a natural disaster. Some were tangible products, and others were human-centered services. Using a service-pairing exercise, we were able to construct a response system containing both tangible products and a human-centered design service.  

Prototyping

Variations of the kiosk and collateral were developed from 2D cardstock ideas and then quickly transformed into 3D prototypes. The kiosk was composed of 3D applications composed of matboard and cardboard. Additional resources used were acrylic material and vinyl adhesives. Early wireframing of was done through the InVision app to understand our own process.

Early Wireframing (Note: Click Interaction Accessible)

Simulation

Through Parsons School of Design, teams of designers collaborated to perform a disaster preparedness simulation of their project proposals at The High Line in NYC. Stakeholders, guests, and the public were invited to participate and evaluate the projects. The simulation took attendees through a before, during and post-stage of a disaster using marked boundaries, sound installation, and designed prompts. Each stage introduced the respective design proposal. Dear Neighbor was illustrated in each stage.