MyWater: Flint

I designed a responsive web platform to monitor lead levels of the Flint water crisis.

May - November 2016
Product Designer


The site on a mobile phone


I was the lead product designer for a responsive web platform to track local data surrounding the Flint water crisis. In 2014, a water source change in Flint, Michigan, led to dangerously high lead levels in the city’s water supply. This led to lead exposure in the tap water. The city of Flint was declared to be in a state of emergency by early 2016, and Google chipped in by donating $150,000 to the University of Michigan Flint to develop a comprehensive data platform to assist community leaders in making more informed decisions and providing critical information to the citizens of Flint. My designs were implemented by a team of UM Flint computer science students, with data provided by students from the Michigan Data Science Team.

Toggling the map to view water pickup locations:

Zooming in to view lead levels for a specific location:

Learning how to install a water filter:

Final Product:

It became clear that the water supply was relative to the location. Based on the user research, I focused on the following functions for the platform:
  • Map: Map (powered by the Google Maps API), with the ability to search for lead level data (EPA ratings on tested samples) in a specific location, toggle water pickup and recycling locations, submit photos of local service line pipes, and receive targeted advice based on the local lead levels
  • Tutorials: Step-by-step walkthroughs on how to test your water, clean a water filter, and clean an aerator
  • News & Alerts: News and alerts feed of local news coverage of the water crisis
The crown jewel of the web platform was the map, as it allowed the community to better visualize their water. Users were found to be split in their usage of a desktop computer versus a phone, so when designing user flows, I designed for both mobile and desktop.

What’s next?

The platform, named My Water - Flint, was launched in November 2016, and a mobile app version is available for download in the Play Store. It was featured in the following:

Other collaborators: Ellen Faulkner (Google / Product Designer - Mobile App), Maribeth Rauh (Google / Software Engineer), Mark Allison (UM - Flint / Professor: Computer Science), Jake Abernathy (UM - Ann Arbor / Professor: Data Visualization), Rebecca Pettengill (UM - Flint / Community Relations), Jes Kane (Google / Marketing), Miyako Jones (UM - Flint / Student Developer), Phil Boyd (UM - Flint / Student Developer), Adam Powell (UM - Flint / Student Developer), Brad Schmelzer (UM - Flint / Student Graphic Designer), Chengyu Dai (UM - Ann Arbor / Student Data Scientist), and Cyrus Anderson (UM - Ann Arbor / Student Data Scientist).