21 May Designing for Inevitabilities
Nothing like seeing a designer take matters into his own hands. Via a social good initiative called Basic Safety Net, designer and artist Brian Singer is raising funds to produce & distribute disaster preparedness guides to San Fransisco residents (beginning with the most economically distressed neighborhoods first), offering key information for what to do pre- and post-disaster.
Brian explains the urgency of this project: “We live in a potential disaster zone, we all know this. There are 7 significant fault lines running through the region. And we know the next major quake isn’t a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN.
“If it’s a big one like the 1906 quake (or if we’re hit with a terrorist attack, wild fires, or flooding) then we could be in serious trouble. Despite all this cheerful information, a lot of people still aren’t prepared. They either have no plan, no supplies, or don’t know what to do after a disaster hits.”
You might wonder, what’s the purpose of a printed brochure when we have loads and loads of resources on the internet? Well, please consider this: in the aftermath of a disaster (an earthquake; or in the case of South Florida, a hurricane), electricity is down; internet service is down; cellphones and landlines go down; and it can take weeks to restore these basic services (just ask Puerto Rico). It’s hard to grasp since we are completely dependent on the internet for almost every practical need of day to day life. But during a disaster, our access to life-saving information is limited to low-tech or non-tech sources, which is why this printed guide is such a great idea.
It’s also critical that the guides are being designed and produced in multiple languages (English + Spanish and English + Chinese) to serve the population – multilingual design from the beginning, with intention, rather than as an afterthought.
“Basic Safety Net was created to address a gap in our approach to dealing with emergencies: what happens immediately after a major disaster, and how to prevent additional risks to health and property damage.
“These guides probably won’t convince everyone to make their plan. Some will, but many will simply put the guide in a kitchen drawer, and that’s where we want them to end up. Because after a quake, you just might need to know how, or when, to shut off your gas. You might need to know how to purify water without electricity.”