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BFF (Bushfire Friend)

an app to connect bushfire victims, volunteers, and Non-Profit Organizations

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Lewwanduuwe Dharmasena (Ruvini), Srishti Sirohi and Shing Chung Lee, Qihong Zeng and Shaoxuan Li


UI/UX Designer and Researcher


Figma, Teams, Google Docs

Time frame

2.5 months





Project Aims
MVP Features


BFF was designed to improve connection for emergency responders, NGOs, volunteers and bushfire victims. We observed that bushfire related products are not meeting these goals, which is causing feelings of isolation, helplessness anxiety.

Project Aims

Improve efficiency of bushfire response through connection, awareness, community engagement and assistance.



MVP Features

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The primary objective of this project is to develop a software application that connects and builds relationships between victims, volunteers, and Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)


Market Research
Desk Research

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Market Research

Our market analysis yielded invaluable insights that informed the design of our minimum viable product (MVP). We identified key players in the market, including:- NSW Rural Fire Service's (RFS) 'Fires Near Me' application- Red Cross- GoFundMeWe also recognized the significance of social media in:- Educating the public about bushfire safety and preparedness- Facilitating fundraising efforts- Raising awareness about the impact of bushfiresThese findings enabled us to shape our solution, ensuring it aligns with existing platforms and leverages social media's potential for maximum impact. By understanding the market landscape, we can create a more effective and integrated solution

Desk Research

The team delved into the complex dynamics of bushfire response and mitigation. By analyzing data and stakeholder insights, we uncovered key findings with our desk research:

- Bushfires are a common natural disaster in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, causing significant socio-economic and environmental impact (Haque et al., 2023).

- The impact of bushfires includes loss of life, property damage, air and soil pollution, and deterioration of biodiversity (Li et al., 2021).
- Effective bushfire response and mitigation require a well-planned community education program, reliable warning systems, and adequate resources (Erikson & Prior, 2013).
- Non-profit organizations play a crucial role in bushfire response, but online donations are often low and affected by awareness and engagement (Rajapaksha et al., 2022).

- Australians are willing to volunteer and help during crises, but personal connections and self-involvement are common entry points, and public awareness is needed (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021) .

- Online donations have surpassed direct deposits, but transparency issues and scams pose concerns. Organizations are adapting by leveraging social media for crisis updates and storytelling to maintain public engagement. (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, n.d.).


Overall, the research indicates an opportunity to create an application that addresses the identified problems when connecting bushfire victims, charity/volunteering organizations, and volunteers. By consolidating reliable resources in one place and providing real-time information about bushfires, we aim to facilitate efficient coordination, enhance community engagement, and contribute towards mitigating the impact of future bushfire disasters in Australia. The above background study supported us in identifying how to address the painpoints of responding to bushfires and how to approach them.  





Once our MVP features were defined and our research helped guide our assumptions, we decided to create a basic wireframe for our app. In order to be resource efficient we only wireframed the main screen which had the highest impact on our user. 

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Low fidelity prototype

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High fidelity prototype

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We effectively harnessed data insights from intensive desk research and market analysis to inform our design decisions, creating a solution aligned with the needs of our target audience.

Because the goals of the course (Data Driven Storytelling) was to create a product proposal based on intensive desk research and market research conducted for the duration of the semester, the team did not take the product to the next phases fo development. 

If we were to further the project, we will advance to the testing phase, where we will conduct:

- In-depth observational testing
- Usability testing tailored to our personas' diverse mindsets before, during, and after bushfires

These tests will help validate our design decisions, ensuring our solution meets the needs of our users (bushfire victims, NPOs and volunteers) in a real-world context. 


Amanda, R. (2023, May 21). Campaign to help get volunteer numbers back on track | Department of Social Services Ministers.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2021, June 29). General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2020 | Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. (n.d.). Small Charities Library—Social media | ACNC. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from


Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (2021). Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity 2020 (Australia) [Text].


Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.


Insurance Council of Australia. (2023, August). Data hub. Insurance Council of Australia.


Design Council. (n.d.). The Double Diamond—Design Council. Retrieved October 11, 2023, from


Haque, K. M. S., Uddin, M., Ampah, J. D., Haque, Md. K., Hossen, Md. S., Rokonuzzaman, Md., Hossain, Md. Y., Hossain, Md. S., & Rahman, Md. Z. (2023). Wildfires in Australia: A bibliometric analysis and a glimpse on ‘Black Summer’ (2019/2020) disaster. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 30(29), 73061–73086.


Zander, K. K., Garnett, S. T., Ogie, R., Alazab, M., & Nguyen, D. (2023). Trends in bushfire related tweets during the Australian ‘Black Summer’ of 2019/20. Forest Ecology and Management, 545, 121274.


Geoscience Australia (2022, September 7). Bushfire (Australia) [Text].


Li, M., Shen, F., & Sun, X. (2021). 2019‒2020 Australian bushfire air particulate pollution and impact on the South Pacific Ocean. Scientific Reports, 11(1), Article 1.


Gill, A. M. (2005). Landscape fires as social disasters: An overview of ‘the bushfire problem.’ Global Environmental Change Part B: Environmental Hazards, 6(2), 65–80.


Stephenson, C., Handmer, J., & Betts, R. (2013). Estimating the economic, social and environmental impacts of wildfires in Australia. Environmental Hazards, 12(2), 93–111.


McLennan, J., & Birch, A. (2005). A potential crisis in wildfire emergency response capability? Australia’s volunteer firefighters. Global Environmental Change Part B: Environmental Hazards, 6(2), 101–107.


McLennan, J., Paton, D., & Wright, L. (2015). At-risk householders’ responses to potential and actual bushfire threat: An analysis of findings from seven Australian post-bushfire interview studies 2009–2014. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 12, 319–327.


Eriksen, C., & Prior, T. (2013). Defining the importance of mental preparedness for risk communication and residents well-prepared for wildfire. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 6, 87–97.


New South Wales Rural Fire Services.


Whittaker, J., Taylor, M., & Bearman, C. (2020). Why don’t bushfire warnings work as intended? Responses to official warnings during bushfires in New South Wales, Australia. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 45, 101476.


O’Halloran, M., & Davies, A. (2020). A shared risk: Volunteer shortages in Australia’s rural bushfire brigades. Australian Geographer, 51(4), 421–435.


McLennan, J., & Birch, A. (2008). Why Would You Do It? Age and Motivation to Become a Fire Service Volunteer. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Organizational Psychology, 1(1), 7–11.


McLennan, B., Whittaker, J., & Handmer, J. (2016). The changing landscape of disaster volunteering: Opportunities, responses and gaps in Australia. Natural Hazards, 84(3), 2031–2048.


Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 37–43.


Rajapaksha, D., Sokol, K., Chan, J., Salim, F., Prasad, M., & Samarawickrama, M. (2022). Analysing Donors’ Behaviour in Non-profit Organisations for Disaster Resilience: The 2019--2020 Australian Bushfires Case Study (arXiv:2210.09034). arXiv.


Fires Near Me (Australia).


Australian Red Cross.


Ogie, R., Moore, A., Wickramasuriya, R., Amirghasemi, M., James, S., & Dilworth, T. (2022). Twitter data from the 2019–20 Australian bushfires reveals participatory and temporal variations in social media use for disaster recovery. Scientific Reports, 12(1), Article 1.

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