Mobile Application Design for an IU Grand Challenge: Hoosier Storm Source

Team: Reeti Mathur, Amber Tansy, Niranjan Kshirsagar, Han Wang


Core Problem

Providing citizens with additional organization and structure than what is found in current platforms used for weather disaster communication (i.e. Facebook, Twitter), and assisting them with communication methods that are necessary before, during, and after a severe weather event occurs.


My Role
  • Brainstorming
  • Interviewing
  • Secondary Research (additional data)
  • Sketching
  • Storyboarding
  • Prototyping
  • User Flows
  • Usability Design Testing


Target Audience

We targeted individuals who have experienced or will experience severe weather phenomena such as Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, etc. As a starting point, we focused on the citizens of Indiana.


The Goal of the Application

The goal of this platform is to provide additional organization and structure through one-to-one communication than what is currently found on social media which is utilized for severe weather events, such as hashtags on Twitter or trending topics on Facebook (#HurricaneHarvey). We focused on improving communication methods before, during, and after a severe weather event occurs.



When emergency response systems are down, citizens turn to large social media sites for help. Due to large platforms used for disaster communication that is not being designed for such a task, we found that many rescue pleas went unheard as older posts were retweeted/shared and brought to the forefront, regardless of whether that individual had already been rescued.

Additionally, rescuers were forced to sift through massive amounts of posts on these platforms in order to identify those who needed to be rescued. This was especially present in hurricane situations, such as Irma and Harvey.

During our user research, we found that many individuals were concerned with maintaining communication methods with loved ones throughout the storm remaining up to date on the events of the storm and being notified well in advance in order to have adequate time to prepare for the storm before it arrived.


Low-Fidelity Prototypes Created using Balsamiq

Creating an account

Users will be able to set up their profile while creating an account on the application. They will also be able to sync contacts from their phone directory at this point.


Adding Rescuers

This enables users to quickly search through their contacts to add acquaintances or family and friends as rescuers, those people who the users trust for help during a disaster or in an environmental emergency. They could also look for public services through police officials or firemen to seek help.


Sending Rescue Requests

Our overhead virtual map provides a heat-colored overlay that depicts which areas of the user’s location are safest, as well as which are most severe, similar to what is typically seen on a weather overlay on News and Weather stations.

This provides the user with quick insights into where the safest areas to take shelter would be. The icons present on the map screen show neighbors, nearby individuals including police or firemen, individuals who also use the application, or individuals who are on the user’s rescue list. The user will then be notified if the request has been accepted.


AI Chat

The AI Chat begins by introducing itself to users and providing quick hot-buttons that direct the user to specific answers to commonly asked questions, such as “How to prepare for a tornado?”. The user can also ask questions directly to the AI chat, and the bot will reply to the user’s questions with recommendations or additional buttons that direct the user to specific pages, if necessary, to best answer the question.

The user can then read the suggested resource and complete the task, or continue asking the AI chat certain questions if they would like additional information.


Resources and Discussions

This feature allows users to search for keywords related to a particular topic and will be given a selected amount of discussions or conversations that include that keyword. The user can then select the discussions to expand them. They could also ask questions or start their own discussions and conversations about the weather events in question.


High-Fidelity Prototype Created using Marvel