Post-disaster resource exchange: A concept

The inspiration

Back at NYU, I took a class called Design for UNICEF, where students partnered with UNICEF to design solutions that helped their mission. After Hurricane Sandy hit during the semester and we experienced the loss of resources in New York firsthand, my team decided to focus on how solving the problem of how people communicate after a disaster. We came up with a concept of an tablet application that would be installed in city buildings and send any entered data to the web.

This solution, however, required significant infrastructure and cost, and because it requires government approval, it wasn't scalable. Poorer cities around the world likely wouldn't be able to afford it, and it requires that neighbors be in a physical place in order to access crucial information about where they can access or give much needed resources.

That's how I started creating this concept of a resource exchange application - something web-based, accessible on any internet-enabled device, and easily replicable to be useful after any crisis or disaster where locals need more information in order to help one another.

Objective: Helping those who need or have resources after a disaster connect with one another, so that those that need help can receive it.

Process and interaction design

I wanted to make things as easy as possible for people to find out about unfulfilled needs and available resources near them. I also want this concept to not require heavy development, so I left the method of contact up to existing means (email, phone), instead of creating a messaging feature within the app. Of course, this might be a consideration in a future iteration of this concept.

I first mapped the user flow and created wireframes. The red-bordered flow indicates what I think would be the most useful path: individuals searching for needs around them that they can help meet.

User flow

User flow

Initial wireframes

Initial wireframes


Visual design

(Click images to view larger versions)

Future hopes

This initial concept is limited in its lack of testing and in real-world data. I hope that in the future, I can develop this into a real, scalable and usable resource exchange app that can be used in post-disaster conditions in any location around the world.