This past fall, my “Trust and Verification” class partnered with the American Red Cross for a two-week long excersize designing a number of interventions encouraging young Americans to prepare themselves for natural disasters.

Our contacts at the Red Cross informed us that most young able-bodied Americans are not prepared for natural disasters. They don’t have non-perishable food stored or an evacuation plan in place. Our colleagues at the Red Cross explained that in recent disaster scenarios aid organizations have been overwhelmed by the number of people who need help. Our task became, how can you motivate able-bodied Americans to prepare themselves for disasters? This would give aid organizations the bandwidth to prioritize helping senior citizens and people with disabilities in disaster scenarios.

Enter the tentatively named “DisasterPro” – a disaster preparedness assistant in the realm of the Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home. During this short exercise, I focused on how one might interact with an in-home IoT device designed to help prepare you for disaster scenarios.

  1. Sketches exploring the form of an in-home disaster preparedness device like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

  2. A prototype of an in-home disaster preparedness “hub”. I often find myself stopping before leaving the house and patting myself down going through a mental checklist, “phone, wallet, keys?”. This “checkpoint” gives you an at-a-glance understanding of the threat level for the day.


  3. A mind map exploring what a physical in-home disaster preparedness device might look like and the ways in which one would interact with it.


Here, users can get an overview of their DisasterPro network. There’s an at-a-glance threat level indicator, the ability to view the contents of your pantry and go-bag, along with curated content about preparing for disasters that you are at risk for.