Wildfire Maps

An application to notify backcountry enthusiasts of upcoming dangers

Student Project
Designing for Screens 219
Mentor Quinn Keaveney
Emily Carr University Interaction Design
January 2018 - March 2018
Proposal
This project was an response to the criteria given in Designing for Screens 219; develop a screen based application that assists users during a natural disaster, this project was an introduction to screen based principals like padding, margins, kerning, and the use of iconography and visual design as well as the relationships they hold.

After experiencing one of the worst wildfire seasons in British Columbia's history, this became my focal point. Using speculative technology such as a GPS messaging service (sending messages to users within a geographic location using GPS satellite's), I chose to design an application allowing users to download offline maps and receive these regional messages when in proximity with an active forest fire. These notifications will address the situation and users will look to their downloaded offline maps to outline the easiest escape routes from any given location before leaving for their backcountry trip. This application would allow users to view fire regulations, active fires and their current state, as well as send local authorities information of their backcountry activity, giving them a heads up to if a search and rescue is ever warranted.
Precedent
BC Wildfire App
BC Wildfires App
• Clunky UI 
• Outdated and not updated information
• Hard to read bounding boxes
• Terrible iconography
• Information "meat and potatoes" hard to access
• No digestion of information
• all categories/maps only linking to government websites, providing no offline usage
Sketches
When searching for existing applications in this field and looking into user research, I found access to information to be crucial to user needs. I sketched out some main screens to articulate these ideas:
• campfire warnings for regions
• active fires
• GPS fire notifications
• directions to safety
  and the ability to contact authorities
  an offline map mode to show escape routes
Prototype-1
My first prototype had most of the features I set to explore, though the colours seemed off and too similar to existing map applications. Through user testing I found the offline map mode was confusing and did not highlight important components for users.
These are some of my main screens of the application, showing a login to access location services and saved maps, pinning a location, visualizing wildfires in a region, accessing offline escape routes to download before departure and sending the plans to authorities, and finally a screen which allows users to see the offline safety route in a green square.

The learning outcomes of this project gave me a better understanding of usability and hierarchy in UI design. This study introduced principals like the Gestalt, findability, learnability and systems of design elements within an interface.
Feel free to try the application out below!
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