Let your family and friends know you're safe with the press of one button.

This project was done during my time at General Assembly

Teammates: Immaculate Mutebi & Sohee Oh

My role: Lead UX Researcher, UX, IxD & Prototyper

Timeline: 2 weeks

The Problem

With shootings and terrorist attacks becoming more prominent, people need an efficient way of communicating because these situations often result in confusion, panic, and chaos.

Mass Shootings in the US

View data source

What is FEMA?

FEMA is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security that coordinates responses to disasters that overwhelm the resources of local and state authorities.

FEMA's existing App

The functionality of their existing app is limited to setting weather alerts, reading general safety tips, and redirecting users to more information.

FEMA's Goal

To support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Market Research

We began by taking a look at what other companies and organizations are doing to address safety issues. Comparing them to what FEMA currently offers helped us identify areas of opportunity.

Other safety apps on the market are doing a significantly better job in regards to aesthetic design, minimizing users’ memory load, and using standards that are already familiar to users.

Business Opportunity

Take advantage of existing resources to provide relevant information to users at the time of need.

User Research

We sent out a screener survey and conducted 9 interviews. Everyone we interviewed had been in an emergency situation or had a family member or friend who was in an emergency situation.

“Physically I was fine, but emotionally I was in shock and had trouble articulating that while sobbing on the phone.”

I never thought I'd be in this situation


never thought they'd be in or know someone in an emergency situation

I feel helpless because I'm disconnected


friend/family members felt helpless due to a lack of communication and information

I turn to digital media to gather information


turned to the news, twitter, facebook, or google for more information

I need a reliable way to get in touch


had trouble getting in touch with a friend/family member

I rely on others in times of crisis


received help from a stranger in the community

I can't communicate when I'm in shock


have trouble articulating their thoughts or don’t want to retell the story



Friend/family member

Emotional Journey

We explored the emotional journey from the perspective of each persona.

The Solution

A native mobile app that:

Communicates safety to family/friends quickly and easily

Provides updates directly from FEMA

Connects people so they can share information

Feature Prioritization

Must have
  • Report safety to predetermined contacts
  • Report safety via multiple platforms (facebook & twitter)
  • Updates from FEMA
  • Community forum
Should have
  • Profiles
  • Contacts' battery life
  • Contacts' location
  • Alert when a contact is near an emergency situation
Won't have
  • Related news articles
  • In-app messaging
  • Heart Rate
  • Alert people nearby to help
  • Safety tips
  • Photos/videos/recordings


Sketching helped us explore the different ways we could incorporate these features.

Prototyping and Testing

Starting with hand sketches and a Marvel prototype, I was able to quickly get a sense of where users were getting confused. From there we were able to iterate and create a higher fidelity prototype using Sketch and Flinto.

Home: Before and After


Were confused how to respond to the question


Weren't sure if the message was sent

News: Before and After


Didn’t want to see news articles and preferred updates from FEMA

Connect: Before and After


Didn’t see a relationship between the two sections

Profile: Before and After


Didn't find in-app messaging necessary

User Flows

Contact marks herself safe

Contact doesn't mark herself safe