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DM7906: Interaction Design 

Introduction

I have seen a lack of adaptation in emergency response methods. That is why the concept of a safety emergency response app, designed to safeguard building residents' well-being and security during crucial crises, appeals to me. In today's fast-paced environment, when safety is top priority, having effective emergency response systems is critical. This project will address these problems by utilising interactive media technologies to develop a user-friendly and effective solution.

 

In the case of an emergency, such as a fire or another threat, the ability to quickly and safely evacuate a facility is critical. However, typical emergency response systems sometimes lack the complexity required to deliver rapid and correct instructions to inhabitants. This causes confusion, delays, and even life-threatening circumstances.

Furthermore, existing solutions are typically difficult to use and may fail to meet the varying demands of various user groups. Individuals with physical limitations or linguistic problems, for example, may experience significant obstacles during an evacuation. As a result, there is an urgent need for a contemporary, user-friendly emergency response software that can adapt to varied events while ensuring the safety of all residents.

 

Problem statement


We hope to change the way building occupants receive and respond to emergency warnings, evacuation orders, and safety regulations by establishing a comprehensive safety emergency response app. My app will emphasise usability, accessibility, and real-time updates to help users make educated decisions and manage emergency situations with confidence.

With this project, I hope to bridge the gap between conventional emergency response systems and current interactive media technologies, eventually improving the safety and well-being of people in both commercial and residential structures.
 

Target Audience and product analysis

Target Audience

Commercial Buildings: Offices, malls, hotels, and other commercial establishments seeking to enhance fire safety for occupants and visitors.

 

 

Residential Buildings: Apartment complexes, condominiums, and gated communities aiming to improve emergency preparedness for residents.

Educational Institutions: Schools, universities, and daycare centres prioritising student safety and compliance with fire safety regulations.

Government Agencies: Municipalities, fire departments, and emergency management agencies focused on enhancing public safety and disaster response capabilities.

Pros of the app

Enhanced Safety: FireScape provides accurate information and evacuation routes, minimising casualties and injuries during fire incidents.

 

Improved Response: Facilitates better coordination between occupants and emergency responders, streamlining rescue efforts.

 

Cost Savings: Mitigates financial losses associated with fire incidents, delivering significant cost savings to building owners and insurers.

 

Peace of Mind: Provides users with confidence and peace of mind, knowing they have access to a reliable emergency management tool.

 Cons of the app

Dependency on Technology: Relies on technology infrastructure and may face challenges in areas with limited connectivity or outdated building systems.

 

Privacy Concerns: Collects and processes personal data for emergency response purposes, raising potential privacy concerns among users.

 

Initial Implementation Costs: Building integration and deployment may incur initial setup costs, although the long-term benefits outweigh the investment.

Already existing systems that have been established in large systems may offput potential need for change

Research

I believe there is an urgent need for a technological update to the emergency alert system. Hotels have outdated maps that show exit routes and the UK specifically struggles to provide adequate exit signs and lighting. 'In a press release, Eaton shared the 2020 report, which found that 44% of English firms ‘don’t have the correct emergency lighting’, as well as noting a 2018 report that revealed ‘over a third’ of the country’s social housing tower blocks have ‘inadequate’ emergency lighting’. A survey of 1,584 blocks found - 40% of the country’s entire social housing stock – saw 402 blocks, or 25%, admit there were ‘missing or broken’ emergency lighting on resident escape routes. ' (Thefpa.co.uk, 2021)

I believe lots of these systems to be outdated and need some format of technological integration in order to provide safety and efficiency. 

However, it is not just on a smaller national scale that emergency alert and response systems are needing an update as the market for global emergency alert system is set to grow exponentially over the next decade.  'The global market for mass notification system is projected to grow from USD 23.8 billion in 2024 to USD 65.1 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 22.3% during the forecast period. This growth trajectory is attributed to several pivotal factors. The escalating demand for real-time notification and alert systems presents a significant opportunity within the mass notification system market. Among the drivers are the escalating occurrences of accidents and disasters, prompting a heightened demand for effective communication tools. Additionally, the widespread adoption of Internet Protocol (IP)-based notification devices contributes to the expansion of this market, along with the continuous integration of advanced technologies.' (Research and Markets, 2024)

 

This clear show of market growth shows the potential for the application in the desired market area and shows a clear demand for the product in which i feel has not yet been utilised. 

HCI (Human Computer- Interaction)

HCI, or Human-Computer Interaction, studies how humans and computers communicate efficiently. It guarantees that people can use computers easily and intuitively by creating user-friendly and intelligible interfaces and interactions.

 

HCI surfaced in the 1980s with the advent of personal computing, just as machines such as the Apple Macintosh, IBM PC 5150 and Commodore 64 started turning up in homes and offices in society-changing numbers. For the first time, sophisticated electronic systems were available to general consumers for uses such as word processors, games units and accounting aids. Consequently, as computers were no longer room-sized, expensive tools exclusively built for experts in specialized environments, the need to create human-computer interaction that was also easy and efficient for less experienced users became increasingly vital. From its origins, HCI would expand to incorporate multiple disciplines, such as computer science, cognitive science and human-factors engineering. (The Interaction Design Foundation, 2016)

Today, HCI focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating interactive interfaces that enhance user experience using computing devices. This includes user interface design, user-centered design, and user experience design.  (Vijay Kanade, 2022)

The 4 main components

1. The user

The user component refers to an individual or a group of individuals that participate in a common task. HCI studies users’ needs, goals, and interaction patterns. It analyses various parameters such as users’ cognitive capabilities, emotions, and experiences to provide them with a seamless experience while interacting with computing systems. (Vijay Kanade, 2022)

3. The interface

The interface is a crucial HCI component that can enhance the overall user interaction experience. Various interface-related aspects must be considered, such as interaction type (touch, click, gesture, or voice), screen resolution, display size, or even color contrast. Users can adjust these depending on the user’s needs and requirements.

(Vijay Kanade, 2022)

(Quora, 2019)

2. The goal-oriented task

A user operates a computer system with an objective or goal in mind. The computer provides a digital representation of objects to accomplish this goal. For example, booking an airline for a destination could be a task for an aviation website. In such goal-oriented scenarios, one should consider the following aspects for a better user experience:

  • The complexity of the task that the user intends to accomplish

  • Knowledge and skills necessary to interact with the digital object

  • Time required to carry out the task

(Vijay Kanade, 2022)

4. The context

HCI is not only about providing better communication between users and computers but also about factoring in the context and environment in which the system is accessed. For example, while designing a smartphone app, designers need to evaluate how the app will visually appear in different lighting conditions (during day or night) or how it will perform when there is a poor network connection. Such aspects can have a significant impact on the end-user experience.

Thus, HCI is a result of continuous testing and refinement of interface designs that can affect the context of use for the users.

(Vijay Kanade, 2022)

(Qualtrics, 2021)

Linking the HCI to my project

In the field of safety and emergency response, the combination of technology and human-centred design concepts has enormous potential to transform traditional approaches to building evacuation and safety protocols.  With the knowledge of HCI and its importance it can have a number of different impacts


User-Centric Interface Designs: Create user-centred interface designs that prioritise clarity, simplicity, and intuitiveness to allow for quick and informed decision-making during crises.
Tech Integration Guidelines: Provide standards for incorporating interactive media technologies into safety emergency response systems, with an emphasis on user experience and interface design.
Ethical Guidelines and Policies: Propose ethical standards and rules for the responsible development and deployment of safety emergency response solutions while emphasising openness, accountability, and user confidence.
Contributions to HCI Research: Contribute ideas and discoveries to the larger HCI research community, enhancing knowledge and discussion of the use of HCI concepts in safety-critical areas.
 

Further Research

One particular source looks at the idea of how HCI applies to emergencies.  The source "HCI for Emergencies" discusses the essential factors for creating information technology for emergency circumstances. Some important points from the source:

  • Emergencies place individuals in a unique emotional and physical state, which must be considered during the design process.

  • Designing for crises entails researching and understanding the users, involving them in the design process, and testing products in realistic ways.

  • All of these design processes provide distinct obstacles, as do emerging technologies such as wearable computing and distributed information systems.

  • The purpose is to have a deeper grasp of the difficulties, technologies, practices, and design approaches that apply to HCI in emergency circumstances.

"Emergencies put people in a particular state of mind and often also in difficult physical situations. When designing information technology for emergencies, these two sides have to be taken into account in the various activities supporting design." (ACM Conferences, 2024)

 

It is all about understanding what a customer / consumer wants and needs when assessing the product being created. Maslow was critical in helping to understand what is required when delivering what  a customer wants. 

 

(Bitesize, 2024)

What customers really need from an emergency escape  application is the promise and guarantee of reliability and safety. Whether this be for themselves, loved ones or employees everyone wants a sense of comfort in the fact that they have a reliable back up. 

This is exactly what I need to provide in this app with the interaction element. It needs to be efficient and reliable.  'The human body cannot function optimally if physiological needs are not satisfied. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met. Once an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, the need for security and safety becomes salient.' (Simply Psychology, 2024)

 

In order to get a closer more in depth knowledge on this subject matter I arranged with my aunt who works in the local fire station to set up a meeting with their 'fire awareness officer' Sarah. This interview spanned just over 5 minutes and was extremely helpful in aiding my understanding on the subject matter. Unfortunately, due to sound issues in a busy station the audio recordings were near unusable. However, I converted the entire interview into a transcript and shortened a couple questions in order to make sure all answers were relevant and on topic. 

 

Question 1: In your experience, what are the common challenges people face when trying to evacuate a large office space during emergencies like fires, terror attacks, or earthquakes?

Answer: In large office spaces, common challenges during evacuations include crowded exits, confusion about evacuation routes, lack of clear guidance, and communication breakdowns. Additionally, factors such as smoke, darkness, or structural damage can further impede safe evacuation.

Question 2: How do you currently communicate emergency evacuation procedures to occupants within your office spaces?

Answer: We utilise a combination of methods, including fire safety training sessions, printed evacuation plans posted throughout the building, and audible and visual alarms during emergencies. We also have designated evacuation marshals who assist in guiding occupants to safety.

Question 3: What technologies or systems, if any, are currently in place to assist individuals in navigating to the nearest and safest exits during emergencies?

Answer: We have emergency lighting systems and illuminated exit signs to guide occupants to exits. Additionally, some buildings may have emergency communication systems or digital signage displaying evacuation routes.

Question 4: From an emergency response perspective, what features or functionalities do you believe are crucial for an app designed to aid in evacuation scenarios?

Answer: Crucial features include real-time mapping of evacuation routes, personalised guidance based on location, push notifications with emergency updates, and integration with building systems for automated alerts.

Question 5: How do you see augmented reality or similar technologies being integrated into an app aimed at guiding individuals to safety during emergencies?

Answer: Augmented reality can perhaps overlay digital information onto the physical environment, providing intuitive navigation cues and real-time hazard warnings. For example, AR could highlight exit routes or display instructions directly in the user's field of view.

Question 6: What potential limitations or challenges do you foresee in implementing an app-based solution for emergency evacuation assistance in large office spaces?

Answer: Challenges may include ensuring access to the app, addressing concerns about data privacy and security, and maintaining system reliability during high-stress situations. 

Question 7: How important is it for such an app to have real-time updates on the status of different exit routes and potential hazards during an emergency event?

Answer: Real-time updates are critical for providing accurate information to occupants and guiding them away from hazards. Timely alerts about blocked exits, changing conditions, or safe areas can significantly enhance the effectiveness of evacuation efforts.

Question 8: In your opinion, what would be the most effective way to incentivise individuals within office spaces to download and utilise an emergency evacuation assistance app?

Answer: Incentives could include mandatory training on app usage during onboarding, integration of the app into workplace safety protocols, and incentives such as access to additional safety resources or recognition for active participation in emergency drills.

Question 9: In what cases is it more beneficial to stay where you are?

Answer: Staying in place may be more beneficial in situations where evacuation poses greater risk, such as during active shooter incidents, or when occupants are in a secure location with adequate protection from hazards.

Question 10: What methods do you use to maintain control, calm, and order?

Answer: We prioritise clear communication, regular training drills, and designated roles for emergency response personnel. Establishing a chain of command, providing reassurance to occupants, and fostering a culture of preparedness are essential for maintaining control and calm during emergencies.

Question 11: Is there already a system for locating precise locations?

Answer: Yes, many modern buildings are equipped with systems for precise location tracking, such as RFID tags or indoor positioning systems (IPS). These systems can help emergency responders locate individuals in need of assistance more efficiently.

Question 12: What is the current process on a shout, and when do morals and logic come into play?

Answer: During a shout, emergency responders follow established protocols for assessing the situation, determining the appropriate response, and prioritising actions based on the safety and well-being of occupants. Morals and logic come into play throughout the process, guiding decision-making to ensure the best possible outcomes for all involved.

 

Competitors

Calling post: Response system that sends out alerts too large groups. From what I can gather not all that different from just being present in a group chat/ text chain. Would not be the best for emergency situations.

Kokomo 24/7: This appears to be a more theoretical method rather than practical solution to the emergency prevention. So while it could be considered useful it is operating in a slightly different market area.

kokomo _edited.jpg

AlertMedia: AlertMedia is one of the most established in the market. With an outstanding business model and fantastic customer service I thoroughly admire. I will look to take pieces of their structure as inspiration for creating my own business..

User Personas

Sarah the Office Manager

  • Background:

    • Sarah is in her mid-30s and works as an office manager in a large corporate building in central London.

    • She is responsible for the safety and well-being of all employees within the building.

  • Needs and Goals:

    • Ensuring compliance with fire safety regulations and emergency evacuation procedures.

    • Implementing efficient and effective emergency response protocols to protect employees in the event of a crisis.

    • Enhancing communication and coordination during emergency situations to minimize risks and ensure timely evacuation.

  • Challenges:

    • Managing a diverse workforce with varying levels of familiarity with emergency procedures.

    • Ensuring clear communication and coordination among employees and emergency response teams.

    • Identifying and addressing potential gaps or inefficiencies in existing emergency response systems.

  • How Our Services Can Help:

    • Our safety emergency response app provides real-time guidance and updates during emergencies, helping Sarah coordinate evacuations and ensure everyone's safety.

    • The app's intuitive interface and personalised features make it easy for employees to access critical information and follow evacuation protocols effectively.

    • By utilising our app, Sarah can streamline emergency response procedures, enhance communication, and mitigate risks during crisis situations.

Mark the Facilities Manager

  • Background:

    • Mark is a facilities manager for a large commercial property management company based in Manchester.

    • He oversees the maintenance and operations of multiple office buildings, ensuring they meet safety and regulatory standards.

  • Needs and Goals:

    • Implementing robust emergency response systems to protect building occupants and comply with safety regulations.

    • Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of evacuation procedures to minimise risks and liabilities for the company.

    • Accessing real-time data and insights to monitor and manage emergency situations effectively across multiple properties.

  • Challenges:

    • Managing emergency response protocols across diverse properties with varying infrastructure and occupancy levels.

    • Ensuring timely communication and coordination with emergency responders, tenants, and building occupants during crisis situations.

    • Identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities or shortcomings in existing emergency preparedness plans.

  • How Our Services Can Help:

    • Our safety emergency response app provides Mark with centralized control and monitoring capabilities across multiple properties, allowing him to oversee emergency response efforts effectively.

    • The app's real-time updates and notifications enable Mark to stay informed about ongoing emergencies and coordinate response efforts with emergency responders and building occupants.

    • By using our app, Mark can enhance the overall safety and security of the properties under his management, mitigate risks, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Narrative

Narrative is vital to gaining an understanding of what users need. 'By using storytelling it helps designers grasp what is required of them. Designers use storytelling to get insight into users, build empathy and reach them emotionally. Designers create personas to represent target users and add conflict to stories that reflect their user journeys and problems. Crafting stories, designers can better understand what users want from a solution.' (The Interaction Design Foundation, 2016)

Using this idea I decided to create a narrative for my app.
 

'In today's world, emergencies can strike at any moment, from fires and earthquakes to chemical spills and active shooter situations. When disaster strikes, every second counts, and having the right information and guidance can make all the difference between life and death.

Introducing SafeRoute, the ultimate emergency management app designed to help you navigate crises and find the safest escape routes from buildings. With SafeRoute, you're never alone in an emergency.'

Using this narrative I decided to create a comic as I believe it would be a creative method of marketing the project. This is not a common method of promotion and I believe it would stand out against competitors allowing my app to target untapped areas of the market.

This was not my only planned method of promotion. I created an infographic that showcases the numerous ways in which my app could be advertised and marketed.

Branding

In order to begin the process of creating a Brand I needed to come up with a variety of designing basics. For example a name, a slogan, logos and colour schemes.  'In simplest terms, think of a brand as your business’s personality. It should portray your values, connect with your customers, and leave an impression. It helps your customers both understand what you do and form a connection with you. For example, think of two different cafes - both with different customer groups.'  (Business Gateway, 2024)

 

Brand Name: SafeRoute

 

Brand Identity: Reflects trust, reliability, and empowerment in emergency management solutions.

 

Logo: Incorporates elements symbolising safety, guidance, and community support.

 

Tagline: “Your path to safety”

 

SafeRoute is more than just an app; it's a lifeline in times of crisis. With its innovative features, user-friendly interface, and commitment to safety, SafeRoute empowers individuals and communities to face emergencies with confidence and resilience.

 

 

"SafeRoute," and its narrative would centre around empowering users with the knowledge and tools to navigate emergencies and safely escape from buildings.

Logo

This was more or less my first attempt at creating a logo using Adobe Illustrator. There are not many other versions or iterations due to the fact that I instantly had an idea in my head for how I wanted the final piece to look.

The only tripe I had with the initial creation was that the colour grading felt slightly off. So I attempted to make it slightly harsher in an attempt to reflect the brands nature and represent the harsh natures of the environment in which we operate. I also rounded the edges in an attempt to reflect the app in a more professional manner.

Colour theme

#FF1818

#FE4D4D

'Colours can elicit specific emotions and affect us in many different ways as they have the ability to create specific moods. Colour sets the mood of brand expression. Emotions are powerful and have the ability to drive decision making. Brands want to cultivate strong emotional connections with their customers and this can’t be done with just a logo; colours are needed to cultivate these emotions.' (The Print Shop, 2021)

My reason for choosing these two colours to be the main representatives of the brand was for the meaning they conveyed. Red tends to reflect alertness and danger. This is a vital part however, the lighter shade of red shows a step towards the light and hope of improvement in a bad situation. This is the narrative that I want to establish from the SafeRoute brand.

App Design

My app design attempts were relatively simple. This is due to the fact that I am not aiming to sell a product of flash and aesthetics but more of one with functionality and life saving features.  The first step was to create an information architecture diagram. This was just to help me lay out in the most simple format how my app would function.

'With Information Architecture available, it becomes significantly easier to make key decisions for new features and implementations, to understand timelines for product changes, and to follow user behaviour through multiple processes.' (Pikover, 2018)

Some simple wireframes I created using the help of figma purely represent the functionality far more than the final aesthetic. It is a great showcase of the way the app may work in the most basic sense with every aspect being stripped down to the core.  One thing I noticed was that there was a consistent theme of complaints about complexity in emergency systems which is partly why I aim to make the app as simplistic as possible.

Sustainable Development Goal 8

One thing we always need to keep in mind while attempting to do a project is our sustainable development goals. For this project in particular it was sustainable development goal 8 :  Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work For All. (Un.org, 2023)

My research helps to economic growth by improving safety measures and emergency response protocols in commercial buildings, reducing interruptions caused by crises and ensuring firms can continue operations efficiently when employees feel safe and secure at work. Furthermore, the software encourages full and productive employment by establishing a work environment in which employees can focus on their jobs without being distracted by safety concerns, hence reducing work interruptions and increasing continuous production. Furthermore, by focusing on the safety and well-being of building inhabitants, including those with impairments or language challenges, the initiative encourages decent employment for all, resulting in job satisfaction and general well-being.

 

In addition, your project promotes inclusive growth by catering to the different requirements of building inhabitants and offering accessible features, allowing everyone to
benefit from enhanced workplace safety measures.

(Un.org, 2023)

Reflection

Looking back on my project, I'm satisfied with how I prioritised research to establish a strong basis for the safety emergency response app. Researching the issues encountered during evacuations, identifying user demands, and investigating current technology gave useful insights that helped to steer the development process efficiently. However, in my quest of complete study, I recognise that I may have unwittingly overlooked the creative components, notably the branding component.

While research was critical for developing a functioning and user-centric software, I realised that branding had a big impact on user engagement and adoption. A good brand identity may increase the app's attractiveness, build trust, and set it apart from rivals. As a result, if I were to approach this project again, I would devote more time and effort to creating a compelling brand identity that is consistent with the app's goal and connects with the intended audience.

In hindsight, I understand the necessity of achieving a balance between research and creativity in project creation. While research provides the foundation for educated decision-making, creativity fosters innovation and improves the overall user experience. Moving forward, I aim to take a more holistic approach to project planning, including both research and artistic components smoothly to generate a well-rounded result.







 

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