RS21 Design Challenge

UX Design Challenge


The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico has a significant air quality problem. Recognizing this, RS21 helped to deploy hundreds of sensors across the city to monitor air quality. The city is also working with RS21 to develop an app that helps people to select the best walking route to various locations around town in order to avoid bad air.


  1. Process Documentation
  2. Design Rationale
  3. Concept design for the new app
  4. Part of the app must include a map that shows walking routes as well as a graphical representation of good and bad air.
  5. Time Limit: 5 days

Methods Used

Affinity Diagramming, Stakeholder Maps, Personas, User Journey Maps, Competitive Analysis, Prototyping, User Flows

To tackle this design challenge, I have divided it into several parts to make it easier to digest. First, I develop key insights through secondary research and smart assumptions. With those insights, I define the audience and understand the user through personas and user journey maps. After looking at similarities between pain points, I come up with key features the app will have to accomplish the goal of helping people select the best walking route around town to avoid bad air. The app will be explained through low fidelity user flows. Then I dive deeper into individual screens with high fidelity mock ups that include explanations for key interactions on the screen and the reason it accomplishes the main goal.

Secondary Research and Key Insights

Affinity Diagram based on STEEP (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economical, Political)

Air Quality Index for Albuquerque: 60/100, moderate

  • Caused by: Wildfires, dust storm, particles in the air, industries such as road mills opening near poor neighborhoods (crushed pavement)
  • Car thefts rank 2nd amongst the nation possibly due to poor justice system
  • Air pollution is generated both from vehicles and also power generation and many industrial installations.
  • Worst offenders are coal-fired power plants, which will no longer be required to modernize their pollution controls by the current administration.
“A lot of it comes from burning dirty fuels, like coal, oil and gas,” Perkins said. “We have a lot of oil and gas production here, and that’s definitely a cause of this air pollution.”

After secondary research, I’ve made a couple of assumptions to understand the stakeholders more. Albuquerque is a pretty dangerous place, especially when it comes to vehicle safety. Therefore, low-income households cannot afford to lose a car, hindering them to transportation by walking, metro, and biking. This causes these households to be exposed to more bad air on a daily basis. And since industrial installations are closer to the poorer areas, these people are affected the most to the pollution. Those further away from these mills still experience bad air quality but not as severe as the poor.


Stakeholder Map

The stakeholder map lists several audiences that could possibly be affected by bad air quality in Albuquerque. It ranges from the low-income households to working middle class and politicians. Based on the secondary research, the policies for air quality control have been sub-par which leads to a lot of unrest within the city. Those who can afford to live far away from pollution heavy areas still suffer the effects of malpractice.

I’ve decided to focus on two very different audiences for personas and user journey maps to understand the different needs and pain points for these people to better design the app.


User Journey Maps

Some takeaways I got from doing the personas and user journey maps was that both stakeholders spend a lot of time exposed to bad air while walking or doing other activities regardless of income or location. Although Maria might have it much worse due to her financial situation and locale, Mark can experience the same amount of stress to breathing throughout the day. The app design needs to tackle better routes for walking to avoid bad air and strategies to minimize the exposure of bad air while walking.

Competitive Analysis


  • Extra information on traffic alerts department
  • Crowd-sources traffic information from other drivers on th app
  • Friendly map interface that shows icons for accidents, hazards, road closures, speed cameras, and police officers waiting for the next lead foot to whiz by
  • Red lines show how long traffic jams can extend for
  • App automatically reroutes you based on all this data
  • features that allow you to add photos and note whether the trouble is on your side or oncoming traffic to help other users
  • remembers previous routes that u have taken
  • also create a planned drive by entering time and date of travel
  • Some user-info may not be edited or filtered

Google Maps

Google Maps
  • turn by turn directions that change if a better route appears
  • offline use


  • turn by turn directions with offline map
  • open-source info and user submitted data to suggest trails for different fitness levels
  • takes into account topography

inRoute Route Planner

  • crowd-sourced app that gathers traffic data and alerts
  • has traffic cameras in several areas


  • allows you to plan multi-stop, non-direct trips
  • live weather conditions
  • curviness and elevation of various parts of the route
  • for road trips


  • uses a ‘tag’ product to detect carbon monoxide
  • another product paired with the app

After completing the competitive analysis, I have understood that it is very important to include a couple of variables into the new app: Crowdsourced information, live camera feed of several pollution points, danger notifications, pollution level meter.

UI Screens/ UX Flow



These were some initial concepts I had for the final app design. I incorporated a main user system centered around the navigation and the ability to choose between several good/ bad routes according to the Air Quality Index. I also had a secondary system which was the user’s menu bar. This included other components such as leaving feedback, live video, and danger points.

UI Screens/ UX Flow


UX Flow

In-Depth View


The final mobile app conquers the main goal: helping users select the best walking route to avoid bad air. I’ve included the crowdsourcing aspect to create a community that shares and assists each other to help everyone achieve the same task. The different features such as live feed and analytics help users understand why a route is preferred over others and gives them an opportunity to see the surrounding areas. This utilizes the placements of live cameras around the city of Albuquerque and gives more insight to users of the app and creators of the app. Over time, this app can help people navigate through the neighborhood, decreasing the chance of asthma and other air pollutant conditions. Also, this could further push this by starting conversations about certain areas and investigating in the true cause of pollution in the city of Albuquerque.

Moving Forward

If given more time and a larger scope for this design challenge, I would do user interviews in the city of Albuquerque to better understand the people that live there and the population that walks the most. This would allow me to create a more accurate app that will tackle the pain points these people face. Also, I would like to spend more time learning about the capabilities of incorporating live video feed, analytics, and mobile data to create a system that can utilize machine learning and help detect future areas of “bad air” so that preventative measures can be taken. Overall, I think this design challenge is a good start in solving a very complex problem.

Revisiting the Screens

I created higher fidelity screens so the visuals matched the concept.