Before designing a solution a list of tangible and intangible parameters needs to be created. The ethnographic research lead to even more questions and analysis. After a process of evaluation, the following parameters were selected:
- Geographic accessibility: For a global pandemic, a design solution should not be limited by geography and should be accessible even in rural areas without electricity or mobile data
- Multi-lingual translation: All communications should be available in the various local and official languages
- Financial independence: In order to be neutral, unbiased and independent, funding should not be from political, economic or religious powers
- Government support: A certain level of cooperation or approval from governments and local authorities is important, e.g. Ministry of Health or National Medical Association
- Strategic agility: An inherent ability to withstand opposition and navigate around other related wicked problems like poverty and corruption
- Strategic partnerships: Leverage the global presence of NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), International Red Cross, WHO, Gates Foundation etc.
- Cultural empathy: In order to be accepted and effective around the world, the design should integrate local cultures, norms and values.
- Veritable information source: Becoming a trustworthy source of information is a long process that involves building an authentic relationship with the audience.
- Emotional well-being: One of the most difficult goals is to make the audience feel safe, confident and comfortable in the midst of a pandemic, by alleviating their fears and anxieties.
- Social equity: Equal access and availability to people from every social status regardless of their income or educational level is also important. This can help in creating a sense of unity among the audience through a common goal.
- Creative communication:Creativity helps in making public announcements more memorable. Innovative use of social media, animation, music, performing arts etc. can make it appeal to a broader audience.
Framing a Solution
Parameters helped in creating a framework for my design solution. Just like road signs, they help in guiding you towards a viable solution. One of the first parameters to consider is geographic accessibility, the design must not be limited by access to electricity or the internet. This suggests a physical medium such as paper or a billboard.
Overcoming the language barrier requires translation into local languages or the use of universal signs and symbols.
Financial independence means being able to raise funds without support from governments, political or religious interests. Doctors without Borders is a good example, they generate funds from private individuals with no vested interests. Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe can offer a solution.
How do you get support from governments without their interference? Empathy and a deep understanding of local traditions and culture will help in navigating the difficult terrain.
Bull’s Eye Diagram with Design Parameter Criteria
What does a Pandemic Communications system look like?
Forming a “Global Pandemic Coalition” is part of the proposed solution. It would be a non-profit NGO, with strategic partnerships. A few of the partners have been mentioned previously. Details of the partnership agreements will probably involve lawyers and is outside the scope of this project, however the idea is to find common ground with other NGOs working in the global health sector. Most importantly, being able to build on the knowledge and experience of the staff from partnering NGOs is critical to the success of the design solution.
As a result of the ethnographic research and keeping the design parameters in mind, the solution would include:
- Public Service Announcement through local TV stations
- Social Media posts (Facebook, Twitter etc.) using hashtags like #stopcovid
- Posters and fliers for local businesses e.g. restaurants, hair salons and shops
- A 24/7 toll free support line
- SMS text alerts
Screenshots below show high fidelity mockups of the Facebook page for the Global Pandemic Coalition.
Free posters or signs can made available to business owners. They can be posted at entry points, reminding customers to comply with health and safety guidelines. Two examples of poster design prototypes are shown below.