LAFD Emergency

A mobile app for Los Angeles residents reflective of the original LAFD emergency preparedness guide. The app is dedicated to emergency specific procedures and alerting users to reduce the risk of injury through immediate disaster response times and overall emergency preparedness.

My Role

Project Manage

Concept Development
UX/UI Design

Impact Design Hub

Originally in collaboration with David Cahue and Jose Galvez. This project has been changed since original version to create a better experience for the user. 


Non-profit Improvement

I was chosen to pitch a new product idea to an assigned non profit organization, the Los Angeles Fire Department. The project concept was to improve the previous semesters proposed product for Los Angeles residents in the event of an emergency in 3 months. I was able to improve on this project after the 3 months and learn from our mistakes to create a better experience. 


Functionality > Aesthetics

The fire department currently has an Emergency Preparedness Guide that was made by previous students. Although heavy focused on colorful type and iconography, close analysis revealed no real organization of the content and the large size created problems with readability and carrying convenience. 

I wanted to create an intuitive and less time intensive product experience to aid Los Angeles residents in the event of an emergency in order to reduce the risk of injury.


Reinvent The Process

I believed that by creating an app for Los Angeles residents reflective of the original guide but dedicated to emergency specific procedures and alerting users we will reduce the risk of injury through immediate disaster response times and overall emergency preparedness.

Primary Research

In order to eliminate assumptions I focused on one primary research.  My Primary Research consisted of a quantitative questionnaire, behavioral interviews, and situational tests. This provided me with further analysis and data relating to the Los Angeles area emergency preparedness, and mobile phone usage.

Quantitative Questionnaire

I created a short 5 question questionnaire for 40 people to receive a better idea of the general Los Angeles demographic and their habits, needs, and wants associated with emergency preparedness and mobile phone usage.

Age Range:

17- 68 years old


Have been in an emergency situation and not known what to do.

All 40 respondents own smart phones

said they did not have a plan in the event of an emergency like an earthquake or fire?



said the first thing they would do in an emergency is Google what to do. 

Behavioral Interview

Based on my initial questionnaire, confirming general assumptions, we decided it would best to understand our audience further by asking them more context related questions. This would reveal any common patterns or responses that could influence the overall flow/feature inventory of the app. 

How do you feel about an emergency app in comparison to the current physical guide?

What feature in an emergency app would you find the most useful?

"I’d prefer using an app because my phone is more convenient for me to carry around, and all the information is relevant. Unless I read the guide before hand I wouldn’t know where to look and searching would take too long.” - Kayla, 28

"Tell me what to do during the emergency and after because sometimes I get so anxious I completely forget and just act in the moment" 

- David, 24

Situational Tests

To further my position in developing an app over the publication of the guide, I gathered 6 participants to be involved in a “emergency” scenario. The participants were divided into 3 groups of two and were instructed to locate procedures for their specific “emergency” as one would use the guide and the other their smart phone. 


This would not only provide me with real time intervals as to who presumably received 
helpful information faster but also opportunities to reveal pain points that could influence later user experience and design.  

Disaster Occurrence to Finding Solution Test


Earthquake - 25 seconds
Fire - 23 seconds
Floods/Storms - 15 seconds

Pain Points of Google

“Too much content for an immediate emergency”

“I don’t know where to look, vague table of contents”


Earthquake - 45 seconds
Fire - 43 seconds
Floods/Storms - 37 seconds

Pain Points of Booklet

“I need internet in order to find out what to do”
“Not sure what will give me the right information”
“Overwhelming results”

Comparative Analysis

I wanted to research other apps that may have similar goals to see if our app was necessary or if this app would be helpful in any way. 


Pulse Point has the ability to bring communities together by giving the opportunity to provide life-saving assistance to those that are experiencing cardiac arrest. The app uses location-based services to alert people who are trained in CPR where there is a need for it. 


Shake Alert LA is another emergency based app but it is only provides information and tips specifically about earthquakes. 

Jenna Cortez

Age: 22
Occupation: Starbucks barista
Location: Van Nuys, Ca
Annual Income: $25,000

Pain Points:

Must rely on others for guidance.
Social media is the only immediate form of information.
Apps rely on a cellular connection.


Prepared for an emergency.
Stay connected with loved ones.
Apps rely on a cellular connection.

Trish Kennedy

Age: 65
Occupation: Retired Teacher
Location: Northridge, Ca
Annual Income: $55,000

Pain Points:

Constantly forgets specific pages.
Overwhelming information for her to read.
No proper emergency guidance.


Retain information more easily.
Create better preparedness habits.

Richard Pinderson

Age: 37

Occupation: Product Designer
Location: Inglewood, CA
Annual Income: $98,000

Pain Points:

No time to fully inform himself. 
Loses focus in dire situations.
Doesn't know what to do in an



Intuitive and quick response.
Specific plans of action.

Target Audience 

Once the initial research was completed I finally had a solid idea as far to who are target Los Angeles resident was and as well as their respective demographics, challenges, and thought process in the event of an emergency.


Real Emergency, Real Responses

Now that I had the ideal LA residents, their wants, needs, etc I concluded that we need to place them within emergency scenarios in order to derive the best possible user flow for the app based on their individual reactions. 

Emergency: Earthquake
Persona: Richard Pinderson
Emotions: Anxious - Confused - Impatient - Unhelpful



From understanding different personas within the emergency app, I was able to determine what specific needs should come from the app. I wanted to keep the content the same as what was originally in the book, but have an easy and personable user experience the user will appreciate. 


Onboarding Screens

To create a better experience for the user, I wanted the app to be more personable and since the app doesn't need an account login I thought this would be the best way to have a unique twist. 


Current Emergencies

The Current Emergencies section is to show the user what emergencies are currently occuring around them based on their location. This is to inform the user of an emergency that could potentially affect them or learn more about how to prepare for an emergency situation that is happening in their location. 

"Based On Your Location" reveals emergencies that usually occur in the users current location. As an example, if the user was in Los Angeles it would display earthquakes and wildland fires as two emergency situations based on the users location.  


Before, During & After

The overall goal of the app was to preserve the current information that was in the booklet and create an intuitive, less time intensive and product. The navigation on the top allows the user to switch between "Before an emergency", "During an emergency" and "After an emergency" for all relevant and necessary information. There is also a small description underneath the nav bar for first time users to understand what each section means. 


Final Thoughts

At the beginning of this project the "final" result looked completely different. Through continuous feedback and research I started to understand more of what I could do to make the product to be more meaningful to the user. Rather than the app just be an "informative" product, I discovered how I could use geo location to make the user more engaged. 

What I learnt:

  • How to use small, but meaningful interactions to improve the user experience.

  • Understanding user needs and wants by designing an experience that can make a user more engaged and feel valued.

  • How important continuous research is, even after you think the product is complete. 

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©  Brooke Hamilton 2021