Working with the Red Cross to bring awareness to the dangers of heat waves

Project Info

Date : 2019

Duration : 6 weeks

Team : 4 Strategic Designers

Used techniques : Desk research, design workshop, rapid prototyping, concept validation

In the summer time, heat waves are a the cause of a lot of deaths. The Red Cross asked us to help them in bringing awareness to preventive measures that can be taken to prevent deaths among vulnerable groups. Through desk research we identified the most vulnerable group (elderly still living at home) and their challenges. Based on this a first concept was created. A collaborative session with a group of elderly gave us the chance to verify our assumptions and get a peek into their world. By mapping out and understanding all of the stakeholders involved, we identified the best way to effectively reach them in their daily life. The final design Kameleo is a playful and simple yet effective way to create awareness for the dangers heatwaves bring. 

My role within the group

During this project I got to ensure that we, as a group of designers, were the connector between the Red Cross and the vulnerable group of elderly the Red Cross wanted to connect with. I set up and created the materials and research design for the session we conducted with a group of elderly. I played a big part in creating the visualisations and presentations that were used to translate out findings to our contact at the Red Cross.

Co-creating with elderly

Getting insight into the context

When in 2017 Hurricane Irma hit Sint Maarten, the Red Cross raised €19.9 million to support those most in need. However, when it comes to the natural disaster of heatwaves, the Red Cross is struggling to raise the funds needed to bring awareness. So, what is the difference between these two natural disasters you might ask? We found that one is very visible and the other is a silent, commonly unknown and almost invisible killer. In the case of heatwaves, the group that is most vulnerable and in need of help are elderly living alone.

So, how might we help the Red Cross bring awareness amongst the elderly to the dangers that heatwaves bring?

Insights from our desk research summarized.

How to best reach elderly

To determine how to best reach this group in an effective manner, we created a stakeholder map. Having all stakeholders mapped out helped us determine the best way to reach this vulnerable group as well as determine the best way to finance our design. 

A map of most stakeholders involved in the problem

A design workshop with elderly

During this project we got to collaborate with a care home where elderly can go throughout the day to socialize and do fun activities. This way we got to collaborate on a design with a big group of elderly still living at home. 

The workshop was conducted with three main goals: 

  1. Verify the assumptions from our desk research and get a better glimpse into the lives of elderly living at home.
  2. Introduce our initial concept and get a first impression of what parts do (not) work. 
  3. Improve upon the initial concept together with this group of elderly.
Filling in the front page of a paper to get familiar with the workshop topic

The workshop started out with the group getting familiar with the topic. Through a template I designed, we got to find out their perspective on the problem. We also got a good impression of their level of knowledge surrounding the subject and the other people they would involve to help out.   

After the group was familiar with the topic of the workshop it was time to get creating. During this activity the group got to create their own interpretation of heatwave pins. 

“Ja, ik wil ook niet te veel drinken want dan moet ik weer naar de wc en dat gaat allemaal ook zo moeilijk.” (translation: Yeah, I also don’t want to drink too much because I will have to go to the toilet again and that is difficult.)

– Participant 3

“Ja, want ze zijn dan ook altijd afhankelijk van anderen en dat maakt het moeilijk. Ze beseffen het dan vaak ook niet dat ze iets moeten doen… het is gewoon weer een andere dag.” Translation: Yes, because they depends on others and that that’s what makes it difficult. They often don’t realize they should do something about it… it is just another day.

– Andrea (caregiver)

After the group was familiar with the topic of the workshop it was time to get creating. During this activity the group got to create their own interpretation of heatwave pins. The relaxed environment this activity this created, gave me and my team the perfect environment to walk around and have more personal in depth conversations with each participant. 

Creating their own pin designs
Showing off the final pin designs

Identifying useful stakeholders

Thanks to their global network of 14 million volunteers, the Red Cross helps the most vulnerable in our society. The Red Cross needs financial aid in order to carry out their mission. Because of this it is even more important to optimize the costs for any actions they choose to do. 

Using the stakeholder map we got to identify the perfect partners to collaborate with based on two goals: (1) identify the best stakeholders to reach elderly still living at home and (2) identify the best stakeholders to help finance our designed solution. 

We found that the ultimate partner to collaborate with would be a supermarket. The Red Cross has previously collaborated with the Albert Heijn supermarket and we advise them to do so again. 

Using the AH supermaket as a partner creates a win-win for both parties. For the Red Cross, the goal will be to get most costs covered by the AH. In addition to this, a supermaket is the perfect place to reach elderly living at home. In return, the Albert Heijn gets a new ‘spaaractie’ and the positive kickback that collaborating with a charity brings. This way, Kameleo creates a powerfull win-win situation for both the Red Cross and the Alber Heijn super markets. If the pins collections are a success, it easy to bring them back around every summer time. 


A map of all of the leveraged stakeholders

The final product: Kameleo

The final concept is Kameleo. Kameleo is a simple yet effective measure to bring awareness to the dangers that heatwaves bring. Kameleo is a collection of pins that that are coloured with thermal inks. This way, the pins change colour when temperatures rise. This ink brings even more awareness to the heatwaves when it is happening whilst being very cost effective at the same time.  

The true power of Kameleo is in the way the collection is distributed. Because elderly are less found online, Kameleo tries to reach them in a much more likely place. In addition to this, a second option for them to come into contact with Kameleo is through their grand children collecting the pins.