Rescue missions are confusing and harrowing, and, tragically, they too often end in failure. Can interaction design help?
LSSE -- shorthand for Locate, Support, Survive and Endure -- is a conceptual disaster network billed as a virtual lifeline between survivors and rescuers. Victims receive a touch-screen phone for talking, video-chatting, and IMing with rescue workers. Information is then dispatched to a central dashboard, on which emergency officials manage all aspects of the relief effort. Check the videos below:
The idea is partly to let emergency teams plot the best rescue strategy. Say, for instance, after a quake, a woman's trapped under a massive ceiling beam. Video footage could help workers determine whether to bring a saw or the jaws of life. But the network's also about keeping survivors calm (and sane). The woman trapped under a ceiling beam could be linked up to her son who's stuck somewhere else in the house or even to a random volunteer, who -- whether a shrink or an average Joe -- is free to send support messages filtered through central command.
The phone interface:
And the central dashboard:
LSSE was designed by Ishac Bertran, a student at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design whom we've written about before, and Jacek Barcikowski and Eric Stevenson. And though it's a promising idea, it has one fundamental flaw: How on earth do you deliver phones to someone lodged under a massive ceiling beam? In rescue missions, finding people is half the battle. Just look to the Chilean miners who were trapped for 17 days before engineers made contact.
Oddly enough, LSSE might find a far bigger market in video conference calls. These are notoriously difficult to manage, with terrible UI's, and the LSSE dashboard could be what meeting leaders need to coordinate callers, organize basic but forgettable information like who's from what company, and otherwise bring some order to corporate America's version of a disaster scene.