Version 11 (modified by Lutz Frommberger, 7 years ago) ( diff )


Pictographs for Linguistically Challenged

Use of symbology for communicating disaster information


Within the HIF funded "Mobile Pictographs for Disaster Communication" project Sahana Software Foundation investigates the use of pictographs in disaster information systems to understand the challenges for implementing a pictograph-based disaster communication system on mobile phones with the capability to save life and livelihoods in disaster situations.

30% of the Asian and Sub-Saharan populations are low-literate. Present day ICT-driven disaster and climate change communication does not provide the means for sharing risk information with and receiving risk information from low-literate or linguistically challenged populations. There is no established pictograph dictionary and semantics. Our challenge is to validate the concept of pictographic disaster communication and to stimulate feedback on design requirements.

Pictograph enabled communication will empower communities of practice in disaster and climate change to include all linguistically challenged populations. It will bring about change in ways which risk is perceived and communicated by the low-literate and linguistically challenged. Moreover, pictograph enabled communication empowers interconnection of these marginalised populations for knowledge mobilisation in the given context.

Software Components and Stakeholders

The outcome will affect everybody working on or with Sahana Eden.

Disaster pictographs will be found in

  1. disaster alerts, predominantly on mobile devices
  2. components for issuing text-free disaster reports
  3. GUIs, as icons

In disaster alerts, pictographic descriptions of emergency actions are regarded as well, replacing textual advice. This will affect the way alerts are understood and designed as of today.

Issuing text-free disaster reports requires new input components.

In the GUIs, the outcome of this project will just result in a change of images.

User Stories

Receiving a pictographic alert

In an emergency case, an illiterate local stakeholder receives a disaster alert on his mobile phone. The alert visuals clearly indicate the danger, the type of emergency that is happening, the time frame of the emergency, and its severity. Additionally, the user can also understand from the pictographic descriptions, what he has to do now, where he has to go, and whom to consult. The illiterate stakeholder is able to follow these instructions and lives happily everafter.

Issuing a pictographic disaster report

An illiterate user observes an emergency case that needs to be reported. He can use the mobile device to issue a pictographic incident report. The user is guided to a step by step reporting system implementing a decision tree and is able to put together a report simply by choosing pictures. Reports contain the type of incident, the severity, and details depending on the incident.


A dictionary of pictographs and an underlying pictographic grammar. Prototypes will be the outcome of the HIF funded project.





System Constraints


<Where relevant include alternative design options>

Data Model

(e.g. EER or class diagrams)


<Diagrams or Pseudocode>

Site Map

<for User Interface solutions>


<for User Interface solutions>


Current Implementation

<Leave open for a list of existing implementation of this solution in Sahana Eden:> <*a brief description of the implementation (date/time, name, design options chosen)> <*a link to the code> <*list of deployments of the implementation> <*links to case studies> <*short analysis of achievements/problems>

Planned Implementation

<List of goals for your implementations which you (include your name/github repo/IRC handle) are currently working on>

Future Extensions

<List of features which could be included, but are outside of the scope of this extension>

Outstanding Questions

<Questions about the features or design that haven't been (and need to be) answered>


Other Players

Relevant Literature

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