Student profile

Student Profile: Marion Tan


15 June 2018

Student Profile: Marion Tan


Usability of disaster apps

A bit about me

Marion out hiking

I am originally from the Philippines, a country that has its fair share of exposure to natural hazards. I have experienced first-hand numerous typhoons and the challenges of information exchange during crisis events. I grew very interested in the integration of technologies and human behaviour in disaster settings. Luckily, I found a PhD supervisor who had similar research interests here in New Zealand and he encouraged me to pursue my current research project on the ‘usability of disaster apps’.
When not doing my PhD project, I enjoy hiking and I spend a lot of my time practicing aikido.

My project

My work contributes to enhancing resilience through understanding the intersection between human behaviour and technology during disasters. My particular research topic is on the usability of disasters apps. Through the PhD project, I advocate for the responsible design of apps that are meant to be used during disaster situations.
Smartphones are so embedded into our daily lives that we also expect to interact with them during disaster events. However, during high-stress situations, an individual’s cognitive capabilities may be compromised. Users may find it harder to process information if apps are not designed appropriately. In this context, my research project aims to find the critical usability characteristics that must be upheld so that the apps can be usable even during crises.
My project centralises on developing and testing a usability framework for disaster apps. We hope the framework will be beneficial to the future development of mobile apps for disasters.

Marion presenting her work at the 2017 Disastrous Doctorates event in Christchurch

Next steps

I am in the final stages of theorising the conceptual framework. The next step is to create an app prototype. The prototype and the results from its usability testing will showcase the practical side of the PhD project. I plan to submit my thesis by mid 2019.

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