Bureau Blank

Ideas + Execution

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Ready. NYC. Together.

Bringing Preparedness to New Yorkers

NYC Emergency Management coordinates first responders and shares emergency preparedness information with New Yorkers. They wanted Bureau Blank to create a site that inspires New Yorkers to get prepared in the event of a terrorist attack.

Needless to say, a tall order. Some of us think of terrorism in the City as a new thing dating from September 11, 2001. In the present, others think of it as an abstract threat because of other attacks which have happened in other cities over the past year. One thing has changed in the past fifteen years: thanks to mobile phones, we now have powerful ways to reach people and get emergency help.

Our first step: to research how people used their mobiles during recent crises in Paris, in San Bernadino, in Orlando, and elsewhere. Those insights, and the questions people Googled, suggested that people in similar future situations might land on NYCEM’s new website. Sketching out those use cases, we knew it was critical to offer some tips for those visitors. The tool also needed to direct users to helpful information for planning ahead.

We considered those goals with a few audiences in mind:

  • Commuters, including folks from the surrounding metro area and suburbs - from CT to NJ to Long Island
  • “New” New Yorkers, particularly young people who were not in the City on 9/11
  • New Yorkers with mobility issues

Research and expert interviews yielded further insights in our planning. As history buffs know, terrorism in New York didn’t begin on September 11, 2001. The city has seen every kind of terrorist incident possible over the years. On top of that history, New Yorkers are used to dealing with the unexpected on a daily basis. So we knew we could speak directly with them about what types of attacks could take place and how to prepare.

In simple terms, content types became:

  • Emergency tips. How can you stop an active shooter? Should you go or stay?
  • Tips on getting prepared ahead of time; so, what supplies should you have at home? At work?
  • Information about different types of terrorist attacks and how to prepare for one.

As we worked with NYCEM to shape the site content, our site design focused on accessibility and engagement. With this in mind, our designer Ellery came up with a few concepts to visually engage our target audience. The approach we moved forward with focuses on approachability, using bright colors, icons, and photography to invite visitors to explore with a goal to ease our users and not trigger too much anxiety or panic.

Terrorism is about inducing fear, chaos, and insecurity. This site inspires the opposite feelings and philosophy: capability, community, and resilience. New Yorkers are survivors, and New Yorkers survive by working together. It’s the New York way to be resilient and take care of each other, and this site is a part of that larger story.

You check out the PlanNowNYC website at nyc.gov/plannow


Photo "Night Falls Over New York" from Fraser Mummery used according to terms of Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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