Friday 27th September, 2013
12:00pm to 12:45pm
When Superstorm Sandy hit the New York City metro area, millions of people were plunged to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, reduced to needing the basics of survival: warmth, light, shelter, fuel. In seeking to fulfill those needs, they also sought information on how and when they could meet them. But in the days after the storm, reliable information was almost as scarce as electricity. The need for IAs and UX professionals to help organize and enable the flow of information between government and private companies and their constituents was glaringly obvious.
Utility companies, transit providers, and other services were unwilling or unable to provide reliable, clear information about when life would return to normal. In hard-hit New Jersey, utility companies first said nothing, then gave conflicting, inconsistent, and confusing information. While these service providers worked tirelessly to restore the services that customers needed, they failed to consider customers’ other overwhelming need: for accurate, timely, and easily accessible information. In fact, in many cases, citizens informed the service providers about what was going on, rather than the other way around.
What is the role of IAs in managing information in a crisis? Do UX professionals have a role in the emerging field of crisis informatics? And what we can do to facilitate a partnership between government, service providers, and customers that will aid in improving, to the extent possible, the user experience of a natural disaster?
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