• The mission of American red cross is to: Prepare, Prevent and Respond to emergencies. Response is key. They use the ERV (emergency response vehicle) to respond to the disaster by delivering care and hope in the form of various resources to those who have suffered loss. Their organized method of dealing with disaster response gives them publicity, which in turn leads to donations, which they use to fuel their other two key tasks of prepare and prevent.
  • The current platform for the ARC’s ERV is due to be discontinued and unsupported, leading to a refresh of the entire ERV fleet. This has motivated ARC to find a solution for their ongoing needs in the form of the ERV.


  • The process of this project has been documented here. It involved 3 milestones of presentations to ARC– 1) Strategic priorities, 2) Three design directions 3) Final action plan and design proposal. Some of the tools used in the design process were, future studies, affinity clusters for insights, analysis to create a system map, using strategic opportunities for filters.
  • The project was sponsored by ARC, and this gave me full access to their real time operations, enabling me to align my project with their future road-map.


  • The ERV is in use while it is responding to a disaster. Down-time is the time the ERVs stand parked, and still have to be maintained. This is more time than actual disaster response.
  • We convert this ‘Down time’ to ‘Up time’. We use the ERV when it is not being used for disaster response, to spread the message of preparedness and to promote the mission and visibility of ARC to encourage donation.

The ERV system

ARC uses the ERV (emergency response vehicle) to get resources to the site of the disaster. Each ERV is like a sensor, with the volunteers, to get critical information back to the center intelligence. This keeps the complex system of disaster response, working.

The ERV solution


Down time is converted to “up” time

We convert the down time which is costing dollars to ARC, by not maximizing the usage of the ERV, to “up” time, that helps in raising awareness and promoting preparedness.
During a local community events, people are ready to socialize and have time to relax. This might be a farmer’s market, a local football game or even something like the Rose parade (Pasadena). We give out food and beverages from the serving window of the ERV. At the same time, we send the message of what ARC does through the screens. There are 2 screens on either side of a folding panel built into the ERV. We leave something that acts as a souvenir for them to remember ARC by.


It is also designed for the core–function time, when it is responding to disaster

These screens are used during disaster response, to give weather forecast, make announcement, give safety instructions etc.

ARC balloon lights are deployed on the roof of ERV at the field for increased visibility in media and to clients. The balloon inflates in seconds to give glare free white light, and uses a simple plug to maintain air pressure. It signals hope and care to the clients.


Objective of the “Up time”

Clarifies the positive role of ARC to the public: Branding

Messages that we have collected from the field are put up. Compelling stories of hope which keep volunteers going. The visitors hear stories of survivors, see thank you notes and pictures from the field.
Promotes preparedness for disaster: Furthering the mission

Further this platform is used for promoting preparedness. Visitors get information and samples of items they can purchase like preparedness kits.
Creates a platform for giving: Donation

While they walk about, they see the donation information, and can just call the number to donate to ARC.

The media they would see on the screen, while it is parked might be something like this.


Objective of the “Respond time”

Several features were added to the interior of the ERV, to decrease fatigue for the volunteers and so increase the quality of care. While there were incremental changes such making the serving table so it can slide for easy access to the Cambros, there were also whole new features like additional fold out seating and a separate window for counseling so that the food serving from the main window is not slowed down.

Remove barriers, improve the interaction between the client and the volunteer

Improve ergonomics of the ERV and its systems for the volunteer experience.


Roll our plan

Our roll out plan for the ‘Up time’ ERV, makes sure that we give enough time for testing the features, and achieve the goal of ONE ARC, through the ERVs by 2014.

After the research phase of the project, three of us Alex Johnson, Yusun Choi and I after a lengthy discussion realized that we had complementary goals and similar methods to use. We worked as a team. This was a unique opportunity where even as students we had full access to the information in the organization, experts and their help. Our objective was to create a design and strategy that would be most practical, which would also address all the pressing needs in the order of priority, but also push the boundaries of what this ERV really was going to be.

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