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Collaborators: Sophie Riendeau, Angel Lopez


In a collaboration with Office of Emergency Management at New York Mayor's office, we were challenged to design a product-service pairings that aim to enhance social justice during emergencies.


Problem reframing



A study of 151 disasters around the world

Workshop with OEM strategists to better understand shortcomings of the system and interrelationship of stakeholders

Date synthesis and idea generation based on findings.

Prototyping digital and physical touch points of the proposed service. including kiosk, DN App, and personality cards. 

Simulation & performance


User testing: using performance and improv methodologies to create a simulation of a blackout in New York City having planted participants and pedestrians in the streets.

Interview and group discussion with simulation participants.

 Consolidation with the partner

Sharing iterations based on received feedback with OEM.

Simulation: This Was Not a Theater

December 2016, just outside the entrance to the Whitney Museum, an emergency announcement was broadcasted from series of speakers. 


“This is the Emergency Broadcast System… Several neighborhoods have been reported to be without electrical power and running water. All residents of New York City are advised to take precaution as there may be falling debris from the destruction of built environments.”


A few second later there was a child looking for his mom, a woman seeking food and many more people were trying to find shelter and helping each other. This was a simulation designed for three phases of disaster—BlueSky Days, Disaster Response, and Post Disaster—to test series of products/services designed by Parsons Transdisciplinary Design students in the heart of Manhattan.

30 minutes simulation diagram

The Idea: How does Dear Neighbor help?

Dear Neighbor is a platform designed to help people build capacities to create more resilient and stronger knit communities in times of emergencies. It aims to simulate roles that each person can take during a disaster, and help engaged people to develop the skill set by teaching them about the role during BlueSkydays. This touch interface on a kiosk makes it possible for everyone to sign up for a role and be a help in the time of hardship. Regardless of their education, social class and immigration status, everyone may contribute and get ready to help people around them.

“This is so New York, we rarely take the time to know our neighbors.”
—Simulation participants

“This shouldn’t be done only for disasters, these should be roles that we have in our every day lives.”
—Simulation participants

Dear Neighbor during simulation 

After signing up for the desired role, Dear Neighbor Heroes receive gifts each time they swipe their keychain cards at one of the available kiosks in the city. Each gift contains a piece of information about their responsibilities during and before a disaster. Gifts' contents are designed to be intutive and easy to read during New Yorkers subway rides.

Keychain badge for"Listener" to claim their next gift from any kiosk in the city.

Dear  Neighbor Kiosks are strategically located in the city and subway stations to familiarize New Yorker with Dear Neighbor heroes.

Gift for "Storyteller"; containing short instruction on developing characters for traumatized children during a disaster helping them voice out their thoughts and feelings.

Participants learn that during a disaster, the Kiosk is the meeting point for New Yorkers for being connected with people who are seeking help. Not only people who were involved in the program can use their badges but also anyone seeking help may reach out to ask for help and get an "I need"  badge. 

During a disaster, the kiosk interface switches to emergency mode and anyone can reach out to declare their needs in order to be connected to the right person. 

What Can You Do?

During our research of 151 disasters around the world, we found city residents the essential resources at the scene that can save lives. Therefore we developed 8 roles based on the most common needs during a disaster and four main personality types to include all the talents and potential each resident may have in the city.  

Dear Neighbor 8 different roles.

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