Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Disaster Project- Disaster Victim Identification

Background Information

The 2004 December Indian Ocean Tsunami, caused by the biggest Earthquake in the last 40 years with a magnitude of 9.18 on the Richter Scale, resulted in the deaths of over 226 000 people from 13 countries, 50 000 of which the bodies were never found. The sheer amount of bodies littered all over the city of Banda Aceh alone, which was over 150 000, and the general panic and gear of epidemics by the public and government led to the mistreatment of the victims in rapid mass burials without identification and proper burial ritual.

Need for Proper Disaster Victim Identification

The mistreatment of victims and lack of identification had a major impact in the mental health of the surviving members of the community and their grieving recovery as well as obvious legal problems of inheritance, properties, insurance etc. especially in the populated city such as Banda Aceh. Therefore, there is a clear need for an efficient and accurate of recording to make it easier for bodies to be found later if needed for further forensic investigation or a ritual burial by surviving family members. The current system relies on local communities, NGO’s, police or military to identify and dispose of the bodies and therefore needs to be coordinated in a uniform fashion (centralisation and consolidation).

The Current Situation/Process

International Red Cross Association, Pan Health Organisation, and World Health Organisation in 2006 released a guideline for Management of Dead Bodies for first responders that described a general process and recommended system that can be applied with the current system in place in any country. This guideline suggests:

- 4 pages of form (waterproof if possible) is filled out per body to record details

- Min details recorded should inc body number, name of org, place found, date, Map of place of burial and pictures

- Tracking is done by putting ID number on a piece of paper in a plastic bag and attached to the body or key tags are used and bodies are buried.

- Evidence, documents and personal belonging are marked similarly and buried with the body.

- Basic information on paper forms are later entered into electronic database

- Missing Peron’s central information is set up as soon as possible

The Problems that arise from this system:

- Extremely materially intensive (An abundant amount of papers and plastic bags for tagging equipments)

- Papers are easily misplaced especially with 150 000 forms in one city alone.

- Information have to be matched manually with missing person’s forms (inefficient in mass disasters)

- Illegibility in writings and inaccuracy in electronic database and may lead to mismatch information

- A very environmentally unfriendly system of tagging and labelling in the need for them to be waterproof

- Photographs taken by camera have to be matched individually to the papers recorded.

- System is very slow as it is all done manually where rapid identification is needed to reduce psychological burden to surviving relatives.

Proposed Solution

The Quick DVI system is built to do all the job a recorder have to complete per body in a 4 person team for dead body management with one compact device that is complemented by a label printer for tracking and tagging purposes. This device is fully automated, therefore reducing human errors and illegibility problems. The Quick DVI has an integrated digital camera with intelligent functions such as auto focus, auto flash exposure, scene, face, and motion detector. Other features include a resistive qwerty touch screen that is adaptable to other languages to record all the information needed that is recorded in the 4 pages of forms in the current system that also record the evidential photographs under one file named under the specific unique body number code automatically generated. An inbuilt GPS will assist inaccurate burial or storage information will later assist in further forensic investigation. This system will reduce the need for manual inventory or input to electronic database from paper later on as well as a more efficient and accurate system of identification of the bodies with those claimed by surviving relatives. With this device, the recorder no longer have to carry the stack of forms to fill out for a whole day of work, staplers, clipboards, plastic cover for clip-board and folders to store the papers.

The label printer will print the corresponding unique body reference code, date and organization for the purposes of tagging the body, the body bag and any other evidence found in relation to the body such as personal belongings, jewelries, identifying documents etc. The label will be printed on polypropylene label with resin ink to withstand scratches, smudges, chemical contact and harsh environment such as water submersion or full sunlight for a long period of time. This small label will replace the paper and plastic bag system current in use and reduce the material and the amount of time it will require them to complete their fieldwork such as cable ties, tags, suture needles and cords to attach securely the paper and plastic tags to the bodies. Printing longer labels, which will wrap around ankles or wrist as a normal hospital tag would be and sticking the 2 ends to each other, is a more respectable and environmentally friendly way of tagging bodies than the current system. The unique body number is also no longer made up by the person recording and therefore reducing all chance of doubling any codes by any 2 recorders as well as illegibility.


Time management was probably my weakest element and didn’t help at all in finishing my project on time. I was aiming to start early and finish it early but it ended up like any other studio project and I was working till 5 in the morning before it’s due which is pretty crap and it’s all because my model took me “SIX” frigging day to finish. THREE of the six days goes to fucking sanding. And probably during those 3 days I didn’t learn anything except making models out of blue foam is shit and it’s a fucking waste of my time. I was pretty happy with the rest of things but, the posters, and the model turned out better than I expected just because I didn’t actually know how the product was supposed to look like in 3D from paper drawing exactly even after making a mock up with cardboard.

The concept was solid enough and most of the research I did earlier in the start of the project didn’t go to waste. Probably the best thing I realized from this project is that, stick with one concept and run with it and put as much thought in it to make it worthwhile and viable cos if you keep changing the concept you just end up getting stressed and confused and you panic and then you end up just doing shit you don’t want to do like the first project I did last semester.

In terms of disasters, I did learn a lot about how much was actually lacking in those situations and there’s so many things that can be done about it. The only real major problem is who’s gonna make them? Considering that disasters don’t happen everyday but they’re a real need when they do actually happen. I guess then with this project it was also really important to considering other uses of whatever it is you design so it can be used in everyday life as well. And that was one of my problem when I started with this project. I mean who’s gonna make an touch screen camera the size of a brick? Then Andrew was telling me in context, it should be the US army who’ll be producing this shit out and the UN and the NGO’s can just buy it off them since they have casualties pretty much everyday mostly man made disasters and they have unlimited supply of funding to make the most expensive products. So at least from that end I have an aim to broaden the need to cater for military uses as well. Hence why it looks like a giant tank with a lens in the middle.

So overall I was glad that it was over, I felt like I’ve put 9 weeks of my life thinking about dead people and a solid 30 hrs more sleep hopefully should cure me out of it before I start thinking about the next project. Hopefully the next one won’t be as morbid or maybe I should start thinking about a system of burying dead bodies… now that’s pretty gruesome ugh…

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reflection on Design for Life by Phillipe Starck

Well, it’s definitely a very entertaining show, there’s a lot that’s wrong with it though and I don’t mean the philosophies or approach to design that Starck’s is aiming to promote to these young designers or even to us normal human beings who are just watching these videos, it’s the way Starck contradicts himself that I find incredibly amusing. Nevertheless, let’s talk about the good things first, I agree with all the things he’s talking about in terms of design and what designer should be doing. For example, the fact that “designers must question whether we need to design more products”, I found that quite poignant because I actually do think that there’s too many things in the world, so much that maybe if all the designers in the world boycott and stopped designing altogether, it might actually do something good for the world.

In his Frenchi-stised accent, he also said “We must design less and less and less and less products” but we all know that’s not going to happen, so the only other alternative is to design with staggering amount of thoughts put into it, to make this product so valuable, no one will want to throw it away. Moreover, even if it ends up in the landfill for some inconceivable reason or other it will do as little damage to the environment as possible. Thus, hopefully it’ll be the only thing you as a designer will ever design in your life. Hey maybe that’s a good solution, what if there’s a legislation from governments like that Chinese law of one child per family? What if there’s a law of one manufactured design per designer? But then it probably end up with rising activity in the blackmarket and all so maybe not.

The other thing I found quite interesting was when he said, to “look for the story behind the product” and that was a pretty apt description of what ALL consumers should do not just designers. This means, making sure the choices you’re making in buying a product is a green one, in all aspects of its life. SO not choosing a product that may waylaid the environmental cost of production onto someone else like child labour or deforestation or site pollution at the factory location. This means, buying a product that is actually expensive not because they’re hiking up the margins for profit like there’s no tomorrow but because the true cost of that product is reflected in the price that consumers pay, at a margin of course, because then where’s the spirit of economy and well we all understand economy.

So that’s all good and stuff, but Phillipe Starck himself is definitely one heck of a good entertainer and I’m saying that in a non-respectful sort of way. Ok he says all this things about being environmental and all that kind of shit, but then he goes on to hire military cars to haul all those students from one place to another. A big gas guzzling truck? I don’t see the logic in that. Secondly, for show only, he comes to meet the students in this motorcycle to make himself more dramatic… seriously, a 5 minute walk from the camera van to go inside the warehouse don’t require a motor cycle. That’s just wasteful. So honestly? The way he does things doesn’t reflect anything about what he preaches. If he talks about design as something that “affect our lives in the future” and as “a force to change society”… yeah well if we all live like him we’ll probably need more than 6 and ½ planets.

Random Spotlight

My new baby!
A computer that won't make me bawl my eyes out of frustration.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Charrette 2: Breville Kettle

So we were given the Breville Kettle Quiet Boil Ikon to take apart, analysed and redesigned with a focus on the environmental impacts of the product throughout its lifecycle using greenflyonline.org as our guide to green design. What we've found was that this particular electric kettle was assembled in such a way that it was practically impossible to take apart without the right tools and a huge amount of effort put into it. The worse part being, the heating elements, so the block of steel at the bottom of the kettle was glued and soldered to the main housing body and therefore the whole thing (which makes up 90% of the whole product) have to be thrown away to landfill.

The problem with the Breville kettle was we thought, after spending about 2 hrs prying it apart and looking at all the different parts, all the stuff that ended up in landfill and that goes for pretty much nearly the whole thing which is crazy cos you know, Breville being Breville with all those birds singing praises of how good they are as a design company and all, I thought would've designed the product better so they don't actually all end up as waste. But nooo, this exercise just proved to me that most design companies don't actually care, possibly because the competition is so tough, really there's just no room to add environmental cost to the product otherwise... who'd buy it?

So this is the report that came from greenfly compared to the product that we redesigned. We focused on reducing the weight by utilising less material in the housing and the base, less unnecessary parts such as the pyrex on top of the lid, making parts such as the handle as two separate moulds with the polyporpylene handle and a clip on santoprene cover rather than an overmould of 5mm thick santoprene that can't be separated. We redesigned the way it fits together so everything is a snap fit system that don't require fasteners. We also specified the manufacturing location. All the Polypropylene parts will be made in China and all the heavy weight parts such as the housing and the heating elements will be made here, thereby reducing the cost of transport and also the environmental impact of importing products from overseas.

So the product that we redesigned didn't change too much in terms of looks but manage to reduce the overall weight of the product by 20%. We also reduced the transport tonnes per kilometres from guangzhou to sydney from 10.11 t/km to 3.12 t/km. In our end of life, all parts of our product were all recyclable as compared to the almost nothing of the original product.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reflections on The Story of Bottled Water by Annie Leonard

Ahh, Annie Leonard's videos are always so persuasive backed up with facts and figures it makes a very very convincing campaign against bottled water. Not that I’m disputing it or anything, I’m totally supporting the idea of not drinking bottled water. Makes it kinda hard though since we, nearly the whole of the IDES class, have to do 2 different assignments for 2 different other subjects, both to promote bottled water. Well that’s my rant, back to the video, it’s definitely another eye-opener, maybe not as heart stopping as 11th Hour, read previous posts, but definitely as interesting, especially when she gets to the part that shows where all the supposedly “recycled” bottles go… to the poor people of India... to build another landfill. I thought I would be doing something good if I at least recycle my bottles if I buy them for convenience, but obviously all that effort isn’t even worth it considering most of them are “down cycled to turn them to lower quality products that we’re gonna chuck later” anyway.

Then there’s the thing with the “80% end up in landfill or in incinerators where they release toxic chemicals”.EIGHTY PERCENT??? 8 friking 0 percent????????? Actually I’m not too surprised considering when I walked past the UNSW rubbish bin near the bus stops on Anzac Parade, I saw this huge metal bin like the one that is ¾ my height, and 4 times my body size, overfilled with just empty plastic bottles from Nestle’s Ice Tea, lots and lots and lots of Mount Franklins, Evian, Pump, Powerade in abundance and a whole lot more. The surprising thing was, I never noticed it until I watched this video. And I’m sure it’s not like a one off phenomenon that only happened to be the day I happen to notice it. Plus before they told me it all goes to landfill, I thought at least, there’ll be someone who’ll go through the rubbish and pick up whatever can be recycled. So that misconception was definitely cleared up. Apparently there’s no one… And considering Ms Leonard said “People in the US buy half a billion of bottled water a week, that is enough to circle the globe 5 times”, eighty percent is a lot of bottles to fill the land with.

And you know what’s more ridiculous, she said, “Each year the oil and energy that goes to the bottles produced in Amercia is enough to fuel a million cars, even more to ship across the world and it takes only 2 minutes to drink it”. That’s f****** ridiculous. That’s why my petrol bill is so high. Why are we spending so much resources for something that’s only good for only 2 minutes? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY????? The more I think about it, the more I wonder why anyone would buy them in the first place? Why did I buy them? Whyyyyyyy???????? So definitely personally, from today, I’m never buying another bottle of water UNLESS!! I have no access to tap water and I’m in serious danger of collapsing from dehydration or (which just happened today) stupid marketing subject force me to buy a bottle of PUMP water so I can do an ad for it for an assignment… (This is why I’m not majoring in marketing… they’re evil people who “manufacture demand” for stuff that we don’t really need).

But that’s personally, so what can we do as a community of designers, even noob as we are? We can plan for recycling drop off points for bottles of water and give them back to the producer. So those companies like COCA COLA who owns like 30% of the water bottled market share, would take responsibility of the waste they produce in this world. But more importantly? We can use a system of bottles of water (with the help of government legislation) that has be reused, and reused and reused again so people can use those bottles for refills and not buying a completely new bottle of water. Sorta like that shampoo bottles from Body Shop and you get discounts for refilling too. More access for public water would also definitely help. So Kevin Rudd… take some actions too!