Supporting Emergency Evacuations with Mobile and Crowd Technologies - ICAT Community Playdate

Friday, October 14, 2016
Location & Time: 

ICAT Learning Studio (Moss Arts Center 253A)
8:30 – 9:30am

During emergencies like a natural disaster or active shooter, building occupants are often instructed to evacuate as quickly as possible. Yet, unfamiliar surroundings, panicked crowds, obstacles, and other factors pose many challenges to safe, efficient evacuation. New indoor navigation technologies could help overcome these challenges by directing people to safe paths and exits via their mobile devices. However, little is known about how to design interfaces for evacuation scenarios, or how users will respond to them. To find out more, we designed a smartwatch application that provides simulated turn-by-turn indoor directions in the Moss Arts Center and used it as a technology probe to understand users’ attitudes and behaviors. In two experiments and 45 participants, we compared smartwatch use and non-use in to highlight issues related to user experience, movement, trust, and attention in a variety of realistic evacuation scenarios. Our findings indicate that smartwatches can realistically improve evacuation safety, but there are important caveats. We also discuss possibilities for leveraging crowdsourced human intelligence to support more effective evacuations.

Speaker Bios:

Navid Falla is a PhD student in Human-Centered Design program. He has a background in architecture and design, with an undergraduate degree in architecture from Iran, a Masters in Landscape Architecture at Virginia Tech and several years of professional work. Navid's interest is in interdisciplinary areas of work between architecture and design, social computing and crowdsourcing. He is working on ideas to incorporate crowdsourcing into the built environment.

Dr. Kurt Luther is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, a member of the Center for Human–Computer Interaction, and a fellow of ICAT. He builds and studies crowdsourcing systems that support creativity and discovery. Many of his current projects focus on crowdsourced sensemaking, data analysis, and investigation. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the HCI Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech. His undergraduate degree is from Purdue University. He has also worked at Microsoft Research, IBM Research, and YouTube.