Pluvo is a website that educates people about the risks of heavy rainfall events and thereby supports disaster preparedness.
Since current efforts of informing citizens fall short on making a difference, Pluvo intends to inform people on risks, behavior and preparedness. By looking at their city, affected locations or their home, pluvo visualizes how areas might be affected and how people can protect themselves.
Flooding can be caused anywhere by heavy rainfall, which is already one of the most common natural disasters in Germany. Due to the dryness of the soil during the warmer months and the sealing of surfaces in cities, water cannot be absorbed by the soil.
Sealing leads to massive water damage
With the sewers not being designed for extreme events, the rainwater must run off above ground and collects in basements, tunnels, underground garages.
Difficult to predict the rain
The German Weather Service can predict when it is likely to rain in which area. But whether there will be heavy rain can only be calculated precisely up to half an hour beforehand. Therefore only specific warnings for the population and emergency services can be issued at short notice.
Almost no time to react
Once the heavy rain starts, no major measures can be implemented. The water already rises within a few minutes. To prevent damage, the only time left is before the heavy rain.
Most people see the city as responsible for taking precautions against floods - Which is not wrong but according to the Water Resources Act, all citizens are obliged to protect themselves against floods and the resulting damage.
According to the association of german insurers, 88% of homeowners incorrectly assess their own flood risk - In principle, all buildings can be affected and endangered by heavy rainfall.
High level of abstraction
Often unimginable dangers are relativized especially when the people themselves have not yet been affected - but even short heavy rains cause the most damage and these are almost evenly distributed throughout Germany
People only take precautions if they are sensitized to the topic. Good sensitizition must include three major aspects.
Good sensitization must not scare people away and must meet them in their living environment.
Good sensitization must use the right channels to reach people with information they can absorb.
Tools for everyone
Good sensitization must provide simple tools and actions to make the crisis easier to manage everyone should be able to take precautions and seek the right help, regardless of their resources.
Positive communication of risks, the personal address in one's own living environment and the transparent presentation of dangers and measures throughout the city inspire confidence in pluvo, an interactive information platform for raising awareness among the population.
On the landing page, the user is greeted in a friendly manner by the professionals Mona and Tom. Here the intention of the platform is explained. The wording and the protagonists are intended to emphasize that the citizen is not left alone in the precautionary process.
Basics about the development of heavy rainfall are explained and what the city is doing to protect their citizens. In order to strengthen the feeling of self-efficacy, the effectiveness of personal precautions is emphasized. To maintain trust in the application the creation of the content is explained.
During the first visit, users can have all the functions explained to them or access an introduction later if required. The water levels in certain heavy rainfall scenarios are displayed on the map and can be changed in three stages. This makes the possible effects of heavy rain visible and lays the foundation for precautionary measures.
Providing scientific information
To make the scenario more tangible and comparable, we provide more information such as the rainfall amounts used in media reports, the corresponding severe weather warning level of the German Weather Service and statistics that give a better sense of the probability of occurrence.
To emphasize that the user is making progress in preventive care, he gets small achievements after certain interactions. These are collected in the report, where later all important info is summarized and personalized.
Exploring the city
In a personal and empathetic way, our experts provide background information and guide the user through the most important places in the city. Those responsible are explained and which measures the city has implemented or planned in the area can be followed with pluvo.
See affected locations
Flood markers are placed at frequently affected locations in the city to indicate past heavy rainfall events and provide mobile access to the information platform. These locations will be made virtually walkable. This allows historical water levels and frequent hazards to be tracked.
Raising awareness on site
Frequently affected or particularly endangered locations in the city are marked on the map. These can be visited virtually or direct on-site to pluvo.
Heavy rain in your own living environment
Users can find out whether the municipal measures have an impact on their own neighborhood by looking at their own building. There, they can get an overview of common weak points on and in the building, as well as possible water levels during heavy rain.
At each danger point, suitable recommendations for action and possibilities for safeguarding are offered. For specific recommendations, we always refer to the experts in the area, because only they can perform an accurate risk analysis and plan effective precautions.
For the conclusion, the users are positively encouraged and get an overview of their progress in flood prevention through the achievements gained by certain actions. Helpful resources can be taken along for the emergency and users that are interested in a meeting with an expert can contact one directly from the website.
In addition to creating touchpoints in public spaces, other channels such as personal letters could be used to inform the public about the platform and in specific houses that could be endangered.
Giving the city a platform to refer to
By developing a platform that gives an overview of the city, staff members of the city can now forward citizens that need help, to the website.
For this project we went through four different phases. After having gone through an initial round of research and ideation we decided to dig deeper into the topic and go start with another round of research.
By talking to officials in different cities, experts in risk communication and ordinary people we were able to gain many different insights. Based on those insights we identified opportunity areas and generated project requirements.
Using the requirements we started the ideation process. Here we generated different ideas on what exactly to communicate, how we could reach people and how to communicate positively.
Forming a concept
Having collected information on existing products and having generated many different ideas we moved onto the next step. Including our favorite ideas we created sacrificial concepts which we also analyzed together. Gathering the top findings from those concepts we created a cohesive concept. By talking to officials from the city, an expert in risk communication and an employee of an engineering office we verified our concept and its feasability to move forward.
To help us starting the design process we set up a featurelist and an information architecture. Creating low-fi user flows first helped us to test our ideas fast and gather feedback.
Guide the user
Through this we found out that we needed to guide the user and limit the information level to a minimum. By guiding the user more we made the platform more accessible. Limiting the information level resulted in us displaying the most important information enabling everyone to learn how they can protect themselves.
Making use of color
One of the more challenging parts was to create a harmonic look. Since we decided to use color for the map, adding more color to UI components such as map markers and buttons resulted in a fun challenge.
🡐 Move the slider to see a difference
Trust the process
My bachelor thesis helped me understand to trust the process and to trust in the knowledge I have built in the topic. Since we had to work more independently this time we needed to trust in our abilities to design.
Strenghtening my design skills
Designing a map and an interactive 3D object was a fun challenge. Making use of color but not overdoing it and designing a plattform that is easily navigable helped me in developing further. I mainly worked on the landing and conclusion page as well as the general UI elements of the map.