PrepTalks: Claudine Jaenichen “Visual + Effective Communication for Emergency Information”


[PrepTalk Theme Playing] I want to say first that an information
designer, some of you might not know what that exactly is, but my undergrad is in
graphic design. And so maybe many of you know what graphic design is. And I spent
time in the corporate field and then I decided to specialize in information
design, so it’s really an advocacy role that I’ve, you could do different
sectors, but I specialize in advocating for the public getting effective
communication that’s understandable, that’s clear, and I see myself as
a translator of that. So I just want to set that in context. So I’m also going to
approach this talk from the perspective of the designer. One thing we always ask
ourselves is who’s the target audience, right? Who’s the audience? That’s a marketing
sort of vocabulary but I’m sure we all ask ourselves, who are we speaking to?
It’s our public. In a lot of the publications I’ve read from FEMA, from
the United Nations, they refer to the general public. But who is that exactly?
So I know we all think about this, we all know that there’s different walks of
life, people are doing different things, they have different responsibilities, but
what I want to encourage is something called “persona”. So if you’re thinking
about messaging and you’re thinking about communication, there’s a way
that you can invite your public into the same room as you, while you’re creating
these messages. I did this for the city of Santa Barbara for the first time when
I was doing a pilot city, I asked a whole bunch of questions, sent out surveys, and
tried to really understand the community as a whole city. Because if you just say
everyone it becomes too general. It’s not specific enough. These are composite, so
these are actually not real people, but they’re composites that represent a
whole group of people. And you’ll see a student, a grad student, a retiree with
mobility restrictions, you’ll see different social economics, you’ll see
the sort of kind of encompassing the pattern, the textile, the fabric of the
community we’re serving. So once we make these, and I have eight of them so
there’s a lot more, I invite them into the room with me so I never forget. And
we name them Joe. What about Joe? What about Carol?
So we don’t forget who the final reader is and what the intention of our message
and who it’s for. How can they use this? Now we have to think about all these
people right representing thousands of people. That they’re all doing different
things, they all have different responsibilities, and backgrounds, and
knowledge. It’s diverse right? And we as a design problem, as a communication
problem, that is a very tall mountain and this is why I get so into this. I just
think it’s such a big challenge, and how can we sort of understand it well enough,
and then apply some of that to make effective communication. It’s eleven a.m
somewhere, it’s twelve a.m., somewhere it’s three p.m. People are doing different things. They’re just doing their thing, they’re
not thinking about emergencies, they might have thrown a bottled water in the
trunk, but it’s eleven a.m. they see fire and are thinking, confronted by, what do we do
now do we evacuate? What’s my neighbor doing? All of these personas now are coming
together as a community, and making decisions, and depending on where their
frame of mind is right I call it emergency confrontation.It is
confronting them, right? Removing them from their everyday shopping, picking up
their kids, going to work, and now being confronted immediately with this
decision-making. I do want to refer to Amanda Ripley, she simplified the
process of how we make decisions. Through this denial phase, I’m really good at
that, how long we stay in denial phase. We deliberate, and then we decide. And when
we decide it could be the right decision or the wrong decision, but we decide
nevertheless. And I like this model because some people stay in denial for a
long period of time, right? And then they can quickly deliberate and make
decisions. Some people can go through those three steps really quickly. And
this is one individual. This is one, so we all another fabric that we have to think
about is everybody in the city doing the same thing at different pacing. My
specific research in grad school really had to
understand the cognition, cognitive psychology. I studied psychology of
emergency, psychology of disaster, you know how do everyday people kind of
confront information at the time of crisis. So there’s these triggers and
it’s cognitive phenomenons. So one is understanding, well not understanding,
meeting when you meet your unconscious personality. You don’t know who that
person is, right? And it might be a person who just freezes. It might be a person
who just kicks into action, right? And just knows what to do, but we don’t know
who that is until we’re confronted by that in an emergency. So that gustave, it’s a
it’s a theory from psychology, it’s called the unconscious personality. Navy
SEALs tries to push their soldiers so far to try to get to that unconscious
personality, so they know and they can trust that those Navy SEALs will respond
at the most crisis situation in the correct way. And if they don’t make that,
if they don’t make the standard for a good unconscious personality, they don’t
make the SEALs, that’s how important that is. The other one and I know you all know
very well is crowd psychology. This happened so much during evacuation, right?
The neighbor is like, “I’m not evacuating.” “Okay, okay, I’m not either.” And then the
other neighbors like, “Yeah, okay I’m not either”, right? We tend to respond together
in groups because it’s safe, whether it’s right or wrong, right? We respond in
groups and we have this group think happening and we have to try to work with
that, because that’s something that’s phenomenon that we really can’t control.
Tunnel vision is just really poor decision-making, so it’s really looking
through a tunnel. Can’t look at the periphery, right? We just see one way
out. It might not be the right way, it might not be the right decision, but we
beeline it no matter what. And the last one is temporary
cognitive paralysis, which this is a fancy word freezing. That’s when we pause,
right? It could be very quiet, it’s silent, and we don’t react the same way. And it does not discriminate against income, education, race, it does not
discriminate. None of these cognitive triggers do. The
only thing that changes it is experience, so if you’ve had experience in emergency
before then you’ve been confronted, and you bring that into the
next experience. So what I have seen when I’m working with these emergency managers and the campaign for San Diego County, LA County, Orange County, and
San Francisco is looking at the current model now, is most people that
everyday public don’t learn about what to do until the time has happened, until
they’re impacted, right? So not only are they confronted, if you could think about
all those cognitive triggers, but now they have to learn new information, right? They have to develop this mental map of what to do and then they have to decide,
do I get my kid, do I not get my, you know what’s their evacuation information? It
is a lot of stuff happening at the same time, and it’s information overload, and
it just makes the vulnerable triggers of those cognitive phenomenons much more susceptible. Few people so first responders, anyone who’s
been an evacuation before, maybe has you know some kind of leadership role in
their organization, they’ll bring that training into the time of impact. So
they’ll be a little bit better off just as I mentioned before because they’ve
had that previous experience. So when I first came I said, “You know really it’s
not the information at the time of evacuation that I want to focus on its
the preparedness information.” And more so I know we there’s a lot of energy
putting on the preparedness part, when people are at leisure, when are not
confronted, and they have better ways of learning they can take in
the information a lot better. If we can get that going then by the time of the
impact, by the time of the crisis they’ll be able to have a stronger cognitive
framework to work from. Even if it’s just one more thing or two more things, it was
something more than they had before. So I’ll talk a little bit about TsunamiClear, so this is the tsunami evacuation campaign that I’ve worked
with on those counties in Southern California and now in Northern
California. And it’s really now going back to design so I spent four years not
designing, which is really hard if you’re creative, and like I just want to design. So now that I understood what the whole context is I now started to develop a
visual standard. And this might sound very close to branding. And I know you
guys know what branding is, right? It’s the marketing, brands who do a really
good job if I say Starbucks “boop” you just all imaged you know they’re there
seal. Its that repetition, it’s that consistency, and I will add to
this it’s the visual consistency as well. With this study before I show you the
outcomes, we did a four year cognitive recall study on how people remember the
best formats of kind of information. So we had audio, written, and the visual in
this case it’s the tsunami map. So the audio we would give evacuation
information to a participant just through the audio just through
headphones and they would listen to it and then after two minutes we’d ask them
a set of questions. Same thing with the written, right? They would read it and
then same thing with the map. We’d give two minutes because that is a study with
direct mail pieces of how much people look at something before they decide to
throw it away, keep it, whatever they want. What’s
interesting, so we had for like three hundred fifty participants. This included three
different communities and a cohort group on campus at Chapman University to
control the data. Audio performed the worst at the immediate recall and
the twenty four hour later recall. So this tells us that even when listening to
evacuation information people had a hard time hanging on to that content. And even
more so at the twenty four hours later. The written was the best performing at
immediate recall, so that does include text messages, right? When you get a text
we’re reading so it did perform the best at immediate, its second best at recall. I
want to caveat this because written is a visual activity. And then visual, so the
tsunami clear map, you had to process it more at the immediate so it took longer
to process the information but it did the best at the twenty four hours. So somehow visual imprints on the cognition and stays there longer. And it’s not just the
study because I come across a lot of studies that say the same thing. If I
could frame the TsunamiClear information it is the
preparedness. So this is for learning this campaign about to show you and then
by the time of the evacuation they might remember some part of it. That there might
be a freeway closed that I used all the time, remember that it might be closed, so
will make me decide a little bit differently. So first thing I did as I
looked across the United States and I looked up evacuation information,
evacuation instructions, and through emergency management across the United
States. And I got maps, maps! I didn’t say maps,
right? I said evacuation information, evacuation instructions, and I got maps.
I was like oh, this is exciting! Why maps, that’s my job, like why? That that must be the best device, it’s very visual, takes a certain skill set to
read maps, and it’s also when I studied this it’s also very eclectic.
They were all different, they were all made different. Some of them were science maps, some of them are GIS, and then we have some in between. I then studied the, what
we call visual variables, so that’s just a fancy way of saying fonts, line weights,
the way they cross over, we call it graphic density, color coding, so I looked
at all of those things. And what I found was during the cognitive recall study
the busier, the least remembered. This is the one from Santa Barbara that EM
put on the back of the brochure for emergency for tsunami preparedness. It
was really small, it’s like a business card size, so first thing I did with that
and that’s the one that failed at a hundred percent during that cognitive
recall study. It was a four year, we took it out like in the first three months
because we had enough data to say that wasn’t usable. Chopped off the foothills
because this is about tsunami and then I starts to develop a code, a visual
standard. There’s a rule for each one of these colors. There’s a rule for each one
of these lines. The thickness is a rule. Everything is like visual grammar. And
our first prototype is for Santa Barbara and I also included arrows because arrows
is the instruction, isn’t it? Like without arrows it’s reference, it becomes like
this is a reference point do you know where you are? Arrows actually tells the
reader I want you to do something, now I want you to move. So we did some walking
maps around Santa Barbara, so it’s a high tourist area. What I like about this is
for people who are not from the city they might be walking around the pier
and then they see this and they say, oh my gosh, the parking because remember
cognition. First response as a human being we get this tsunami warning, go get
the car, let’s go to the car. That’s our that’s
our natural right habit, but if they see this they might understand actually
going through the parking lot is a lot further and it’s more in the inundation
zone, than if I walk two, five minutes out straight from the pier that I’m in a
safe zone. So again just right immediately it might change their
decision-making. So this gets picked up and so for my first county it was all San
Diego and I go through these pretty quickly because, it really the strength
of this campaign is not the individual maps themselves but how they work as a
brand, right? And this is San Francisco, it hasn’t launched yet, but
this is on its way to being finalized. But even with big cities, small cities,
that these visual standards are able to be flexible and adaptable. I have
different politics with different EMs, right? We want to include shelters, we
want to include schools, we don’t. And even with that flexibility you could
still see consistency, and repetition, and it will still work. So someone from San
Diego could travel all the way down to San Francisco and not have to relearn a
whole new mapping system. So we go from this, to this. Another thing I’ve argued for when I first did this work is print and I got a
lot of push-back at first because that means funding. So I understood that
context, that means I have to print, I have to ship, it’s a lot of taking away from
someone else’s budget. The reason why I argue for print is because it is another
confrontation, it’s called information confrontation. Anything on
the app, anything on the web, people have to get up and volunteer their time. They
have to go to the information, right? Print, so these were mailed out to all of
the San Diego residents living in the inundation zone, it lands in there the
information comes to them. They have to decide what they do with it. Some people
might chuck it fine, right? But you decided that, it came to you, and you
decide to chuck it. Some people might look at it for two minutes and some
people might save it or they might look at it two minutes recycle and you know
move on. So the print part was about advocating for the public, get the
information literally in our hands, and then the app and the web plays a
supplement role to that. I don’t show slides about this, but
I’m an inclusive designer as well. I deal with visual impairment, hearing
impaired, not so much with the printed work but I tried to consider at least
some, like type size can’t go smaller than a certain degree, right? Color
blindness, so there’s some attributes of this I try to incorporate but also to
say that apps and web is more inclusive than print. So I’m contradicting myself
here because information confrontation does have a compromised
it doesn’t include everybody, right? For some people it’s easier if they could
zoom in with the technology that we have, but I’m arguing for a marriage
of the both. Okay this one makes me nervous, this is going well
tsunami clear is going well, and I had to EMs from Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach
say, you know what we’ve got a fire problem in California. And I’m like I
know but I’m so scared of it I never wanted to confront it on my own. I mean
that’s way more repetitive, it’s like we have fire season, and they said what
would happen if we took the visual grammar from Tsunamiclear and applied
it to fire. So this campaign, the first one we are looking at the kind of
eclectic ways that information is given to the public when there’s a fire,
you know it’s updated to one’s Google and some of the other stuff is medium. We
used the same exact visual variables, but we just changed color because it’s fire,
so we don’t want that to get confused with tsunami. The emergency manager for
Aliso she said, you know what this is not about real-time because fires are so
organic, they’re so volatile they change on the fly. This is about people
developing a cognitive map of their space and understanding the risk of
where they’re living. So this is for Laguna, a lot of
Laguna routes don’t have two ways out, for Alieso it was know your
two ways out, there’s two ways out. So it might not be that habit of you doing
drop-off, or going to work, or going to school. That did you know that you can go, there’s another exit route there’s another place that you
might not have thought about if you made two turns. And so that was the idea
behind Fireclear is giving people a better understanding of where the risk,
the high risk areas were, where they were in that, and understanding do I have an
option if we were asked to evacuate. Whether I was at work, or at school, or at
home. This is Laguna Beach a lot of orange there, and we took know two ways out
to just know your way out, because there’s not a lot of options here. And so again mailed it out so they mailed it out to all the people the
residents living in the high fire risk areas, so they have gotten this we got good feedback from the public. We haven’t sent out Laguna Beach, so a little nervous
about that one. We’ll see how the residents take that in, because it’s
really a visualization of the high risk, and they might be in it, right? And that
they didn’t really know until they see this. So in a nutshell, I’m coming at
this as a visual communicator, but not just a communicator but an effective one.
And that study, the reason why Fireclear makes me so nervous is because we
didn’t run the same study. I believe in running measurements every time
something changes. I do not assume that this will work in Texas on the coast, or
east coast I don’t assume that because all the people, the
communities are all different, right? So advocating for a methodology
somewhere in EM that we can incorporate participatory design, that’s what it’s
called inviting our communities in and seeing what works best and how they
would like the information delivered to them. Thank you. [Applause] I mean I try to lead with what the
people are saying, or what the specific community is saying. The one thing that’s
really interesting about the color in tsunami is the blue, I wanted to change
the blue roots, I wanted to change blue because the signifier for blue is water,
right? It’s a convention, this is giving in like semiotics, but it’s a
convention at blue equals water, red equals danger, you know yellow might equal
sun. So we all sort of agreed on that as the symbology. So I wanted to
change blue because I thought well what if people mistake blue for water flow. And
the research that I found was the Department of Transportation has used
blue since you know the sixties to dictate tsunami route, tsunami evacuation
route, and so that again is me being humbled enough to say, you know what we
as Californians at least, because I haven’t done a study in New York or
anywhere else, we’ve already seen tsunami route signs over and over again in that
blue. I can’t expect change that just because I think
the blue it equals water, and the red equals the emergency, so it really is
about this compromise of what takes more precedence as far as the meaning that’s
already been agreed on. It’s a tricky business though because, and that’s why I
mean like what happens if it goes to the East Coast and I don’t know what their
routes are like. You know it’s really important to get context of everything,
not just you know the community members and the people who live there, but also
the you know the politics and what has been established already from past
campaigns. So I try not to, I say standards and it’s kind of a scary word
but it’s “micro standards” can you say? So California I could keep that I
feel confident that the data supports that, and that’s l why I get a ittle nervous
about fire, because I you know we did not do the testing. So for me, and this is
just based on principle, I like to test everything I like evidence space design
and this is what that is it’s based by quantitative evidence When I went to Santa Barbara and I met
the EM there I’m like, who’s your graphic designer tell me who that is. And she’s
like, so talk about humility I was like you’re it! Right away I got
the context of EMs I have to do everything! And the skills might not be,
you know you’re just sort of like trying to pull things together. So two things to that I tried for a grant a NOAA grant and a Digital
Humanities grant to try to get software engineered, an open sourced software, to
get engineered to make a platform. Where, and this is me not being a coder or a
computer scientist, where they could just punch in and then this map would just
come out. That’s my dream that everybody would just not have to be, these are
all in Illustrator so I don’t know if anyone knows about Adobe software but I am hand drawing these. These are not GIS. And I work with Kevin and Rick at the
Geological Survey and CalOES, I fudge inundation lines. I’m like, do you
want them to evacuate or you don’t? Because GIS might hit it right on the
corner of that street. And like we want them to evacuate, so I will fudge that
line above the street to tell people you know that they can evacuate. So it’s I
understand it’s so craft based and I don’t want that I want it to be template
based. And on NOAA’s grant said that it wasn’t scientific enough and Digital
Humanities says it’s not humanities enough, and I’m walking this really
in-between line. So I won’t stop fighting for that because that is what I want. I
get on a high horse about that, I can’t remember my second point to that.
But yes, oh! We did start this design network for emergency management.
So this is where we have five different board members from different continents
so one from Taiwan, New Zealand, I represent United States we’re working
on that, and Amsterdam. And we’re the board and they’re having the same exact
conversations, the same challenges, and we now have members that are mostly all EMs
that are coming together. So we were able to throw our first design workshop for
EMs at Chapman University this past January. If you go to the Facebook, there’s a Facebook Design Network for Emergency
Manager you’ll see photos of that. And it was
emergency managers all doing icon design, like we gave them basic training and
design fundamentals. Visual fundamentals. You know even all those brochures I
crafted all the language, so it wasn’t just the visual. I made the language all
the same, so you might have noticed “your information”, “your evacuation information”.
I made all that we call direct conversation so getting away from the
more scientific, technical authoritative tone and the more conversational,
inviting that plain language, inviting that community member in. So we’re trying
to do that, we’re just starting we’re like two years old this network. But
that’s what we want to do is now reaching out to the community, but also
reaching out to the EMs and being able to do this together. It’s a completely different change so
Klaus Kremer, he’s on the Design Network for Emergency Manager. He does an app and he lives in Wellington, New Zealand so they have a big tsunami risk there. He developed an app that would actually pinpoint the user and walk them out, like
literally walk them, it will literally show on the phone, walk them out to the safe zone.
And it has a countdown also when the risk would hit them. For Tsunamiclear
what my proposal for the software programming wasn’t going to be
individual maps, it would be type in your address. And it would work offline. See
this is why, this is great, right? If you’re computer science and here in
coder like, oh you know one of these people like make that happen! Work offline where someone can or they can pin it before so it works
offline. it wouldn’t be individual maps, the whole thing would just be coded where you could punch in where your
address is and it would pick you up and you could zoom in that way. And that’s
what those grants were for. And Stamen Design who’s the the data
visualization and software engineering, they were going to handle that side of
it and they said it was possible. [PrepTalks Theme Playing]

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