It has been a while since I’ve used this platform for ANYTHING, but I think I’m going to start uploading work here more regularly…I thought a great way to start would be to talk about a project that I worked on earlier this year.
Project: Design a brand new service under the topic of “Nomadic Welfare.”
Partner: Förnyelselabbet, an innovation lab based out of Stockholm.
Making Sense Of The Topic.
We met with Förnyelselabbet and interviewed them about their experience with nomadic youth and refugees in Europe. I tried to stay as broad as possible here.
I was inspired to try and create a service catering to Sweden’s displaced youth due to the heavy influence I was receiving from working with Förnyelselabbet. I started by creating a How Can We? question which I was:
“How can we put technology into the hands of Sweden’s Migrant youth within the first 48 hours of their arrival?”
Learnings After Deeper Research:
- 41% of EU immigrants seeking asylum were under the age of 18.
- Migrants are currently spending 1/3 of their disposable income just to stay connected. (this includes phone plans, sims cards, wifi, hardware etc.)
- The likely hood of making it to safety increases by nearly 60% when refugees have a smart phone with an internet connection.
Validating My Assumptions.
I was discouraged by discovering that 86% of nomadic refugees already have a smart phone. However, one of the glaring issues reported by refugees was that their hardware was in fact too old to run up to date firmware and new apps that could make their voyage less taxing for them. This led me to change my How Can We? question to something that could help all nomadic refugees through out Europe and not just Sweden’s displaced youth.
“How can we put up to date technology into the hands of Europe’s nomadic refugees?”
With a brand new frame I talked with Förnyelselabbet to try and understand some of the dangers facing nomadic refugees. I knew I wanted to create a service that:
- Put up to date technology in the migrants hands.
- Increased the privacy/safety of migrants by creating an app that could only be accessed by phones that had it installed manually.
- Allows migrants to effectively communicate with each other as well as crowd source information in a specific area.
To validate my idea that I would be able to have a steady flow of newer hardware I decided to go out and do some research on my own. I polled some of my friends and asked them how often they update their smart phones and currently how many old phones they have lying around at home collecting dust. Out of the 15 of my friends I polled 13 of them had another phone at home and 9 of them had an extra phone that was released within the last 2 years. I also did some 3rd party research online where I discovered that apple typically sells 13 million new iPhones after a new release in about a week…ultimately this also means that there are now 13 million old phones not being used anymore.
At this point I’m sure you can see where I am going with all of this but heres a simple flow of the events as I see it…
Simply put, consumers would ship their old phones and chargers to one of the LocalEyez locations in a large European city where volunteers would manually side load in the LocalEyez app. This means that the app would not be available to the general public but rather just to phones that came from a LocalEyez location. From here, migrants would easily be able to show up at a designated pickup location to receive a new phone and charger that will aid in their journey to a new life.
The inspiration for the side loaded app that comes pre-installed on each LocalEyez device actually comes from a service that I use quite frequently called Waze. Waze is a community based GPS application that allows users to communicate with other users what the best routes take take are in real time. The specific feature that I wanted to copy from Waze was the live map feature where users can drop pins to tell other users that there are potholes, police, speed traps, etc.
In the case of Localeyez, I wanted users to being able to create locations for resources that would benefit in their journeys as well as other migrants journeys.
The user when dropping a pin has the ability to click and choose which services are available at a specific location. The six options that I choose were, water, food, shelter, wifi, power & border security. I choose these specifically because according to some of the refugee youth I talked to these were the most essential in ensuring a comfortable journey. The user also has the option to add a cover photo to share with other users exactly what a specific location looks like.
I put a heavy focus on trying to make this part of the experience as visual as possible since there are so many languages spoken throughout Europe, Northern Africa and as well as the Middle East.
Some other features of the app include being able to get directions to a specific location that it pointed out to them within the interface of the app. Users can see in real time locations that other users have created and easily see for themselves exactly where they can access specific services.
Conclusion And Screens.
Coming from a visual background creating a service such as this was a totally new experience for me. Working with customer journey maps, sticky notes (a shit ton of sticky notes) and constantly trying to empathize with customers was an extremely rewarding experience. It was difficult for me to not try and spend all my time making the screens look beautiful but rather make sure that the necessary features were there. Much to the chagrin of any true service designer, I created a low-fi prototype in Invision that you can try for yourself that will take you through the basic blow of finding services and directing others to services! Click here to give it a try!
My big next step is to meet with migrant youth this September to hold user testing sessions. I hope to hear unique stories that will aid in ensuring LocalEyez is a service that is both easy to use and valuable for nomadic refugees traveling throughout Europe each day.