joshua kery

Safe & Sound

Helping Students Feel Safe Walking Home


Mobile Application


May, 2019


Research, User Testing, Design


Maddy Cha
Amru Palaniyappan
Candia Gu


Help students feel safer walking home at night


Adobe Illustrator


An alert of attempted assault, chase, or sexual harassment in the area goes out to Carnegie Mellon University students at least once a semester.

Existing campus safety services fall short of making students feel safe on their walks home.

We proposed an app that helps students feel safer by connecting them to their loved ones and to students around them.


The CMU Graduate Student Association asked us to explore improvements to students' travel to and from school.

Our prior research into the CMU Shuttle & Escort service let us map out how student safety was a common concern among campus stakeholders.


"I'd have to look up the campus police number. I don't have it memorized."

"I'll feel safer when I move next year. There will be more students walking down the street with me then."

We conducted contextual inquiry interviews and distributed a survey to learn more about how safe students feel walking home.

In our Contextual Inquiry sessions, students said they felt safest having someone they trust in contact with them, even if it was another student just ahead.

But our surveys showed that students walk home despite feeling unsafe. They don't often plan ahead for safety, but still need reassurance in the moment.

ucre final data1


We speed-dated several storyboards to validate two key design solutions:

1. Put students in quick contact with emergency services, like CMU Police.

ucre final story2

2. Let students see if there are nearby students when walking home.

ucre final story1

We conducted 5-second usability tests on our wireframes to refine their layout:

ucre final wireframe markedup


Map Display

ucre final pr2 5

Our final design helped students choose their route home based on where other students were walking,

Alert Preferences

Alerted them if another user in their area felt in danger, and...

ucre final pr2 3

Fast-Alert Button

ucre final pr2 2

Put them in quick contact with emergency services or loved ones when needed.


This project felt like a strong end to my course on user-centered research, in which we could leverage insights we gathered from research methods like contextual inquiry to inform our design at each iteration. It was my first time using storyboarding and speed-dating as generative design tools, and I think they brought us to a mobile app that really met students' needs.