Anti-Patterns in the Design of Humanitarian Technology

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are playing an increasingly important role in how we make sense of, and respond to, the threats posed by natural hazards and the impacts of climate change. The design of these ICTs intervene in the politics of natural hazards, at times reproducing problematic narratives of these phenomena that hazards research has in the past sought to undermine. Drawing on the concept of design patterns from software development and user experience, this projects seeks to identify recurring patterns in the design and implementation of ICTs, anti-patterns, that support these problematic narratives. Once identified and communicated, anti-patterns can serve as cautionary tales and things to avoid, improving the design and implementation of ICTS used in disasters.

Chiang Mai Urban Flooding Field Lab

I am parterning with my colleagues at Co-Risk Labs and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to organize and facilitate a month-long event that will bring together university students and government in Chiang Mai, Thailand with technologists, scientists, and flood risk experts from all over the world to explore the links between civic engagement, informatics, and urban flooding in the 21st century. The first of its kind event, with funding from the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Financing Initiative and the UK Department for International Development, is one part extended hackathon and one part art and technology festival and launch a longer term research collaboration amongst local and international organizing partners. It will take place in June 2019. More information at:

Rethinking Post-Disaster Damage Assessment

In the aftermath of major disasters, governments, aid agencies, and affected communities attempt to understand the scope and magnitude of the event. Incorporating tools that range from visual inspection to smartphone applications to machine laerning classification of drone imagery, these damage assessments help to respond to the crisis and guide long-term reconstruction. My work brings a critical eye to these assessments to understand the politics of how we measure disaster impacts, and how they shape post-disaster recovery. Working with partners from Cornell University, the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative, the Earth Observatory of Singapore, and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, my research critically evaluates contemporary practices of damage assessment and suggests alternative methods.

Environmental Justice, Community Science, and Air Quality

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the impacts of air pollution are distributed unequally across racial and economic lines. I’m honored to be supporting the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), an award winning environmental justice organization, in their efforts to use community-based science, low cost sensor technologies, and open data in their efforts to advocate for public health. With assistance from Open Oakland, we are engaged in a human centered design process to develop a set of information infrstructures and data visualization approaches that will meet the needs of our community partners in a way that will be continue to be sustainable after the project ends. Through this partnership I am researching how to facilitate collaboration between civic technology groups, design researchers, and community organizations in ways that are just, equitable, and effective.

Disaster and Climate Risk Artathon

In April 2017, we convened over 25 accomplished artists and scientists to collaborate on artistic explorations of disasters and climate change impacts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Seven teams worked over the course of two days to put themes of irony, affect, hope, balance, and voice in conversation with scientific representations of disaster and climate risk. The results, ranging from finished pieces to proposals to works in progress, were displayed at ELL Gallery in May 2017 and on Stanford Campus between September and December 2017. More information can be found at: We hope to organize future artathons in the future to learn more about how to design cross-disciplinary encounters around the wicked problems of disaster and climate risk.