“I mean, I can lift a shovel”: Design Skills in Disaster Response

Session Details

Too often we withhold design efforts for “the best of times” – to make improvements or optimize already good systems. In this talk, Emily Danielson highlights the importance of design skills in “the worst of times.”

Drawing on experiences following Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida, Danielson will illustrate the impact of applying design skills to recovery work, such as:

  • Optimizing data collection to better triage the needs of flooded homeowners (and the data systems being used by the FBI to take down a corrupt contractor)
  • The importance of service design and cultural competence in food distribution
  • Contextual research for a mobile application on a shrimp boat at 2am

Those who attend can expect to leave with the confidence to act quickly in contributing their skills as designers following a disaster; the knowledge of how to advocate for design efforts in states of emergency; and an understanding of the value design can bring in times of chaos.