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“MTA Echo - An Essential Worker App”

An App/Software Project
By Kimberly
a High School Student from DreamYard
Screen Shot 2021 05 18 at 5 13 37 PM

About this Project:

Name of App: MTA Echo


Main Function: Signaling


App Category: Utility


Function: My App would make it easier for those working in the MTA, especially the conductors, to signal one another if there is a malfunction within the trains. This would make their lives easier while running the subway.


I interviewed an MTA worker and they’ve explained all the problems and situations that go on in the MTA. I then reviewed them all and came with a plan to eliminate, or better help, those situations that she struggles with while working at the MTA.


I had to use the design process in order to work. My MTA worker is in charge of communicating that all doors are closed so that the conductor knows it is clear to go, but they have a hard time communicating to each other for the conductor to know. I learned that defining the problem is very important because you need to find out the problem before anything. The reason why I spent so much time on solutions is that this was a very easy problem, but I had trouble trying to figure out how useful it would be and how it can be used as an everyday tool.


The colors I used are green, blue, and yellow because It reminded me a lot of the MTA. A difficulty I was experiencing, and expect in the future, is how would my app be able to connect to any other person without wifi since they work underground. I learned that some apps work without wifi and I learn about how much time and dedication needs to be put into making an app, especially if the app is something that helps others on a day-to-day basis.



About the program at DreamYard


As a collective, we took the time to define essential work in our communities and then choose accessible people in occupations related to our definitions. This project challenges small problems in individuals ' jobs that could help them work more effectively and efficiently. They need varied depending on the essential worker but everyone had small issues that complied and impeded their work.


Students went through a process of familiarizing themselves with the Human-Centered Design approach and their personal design process in the fall where they made a face mask from scratch with minor improvements that they individually brainstormed. In the spring, they took their understanding of their process, chose essential workers, and developed a list of questions to best understand their work and the small and large issues that arise in their day-to-day. After conducting interviews students synthesized their notes and chose a simple problem they could solve with an app. At the same time, they learned about the basics of apps, product design, wireframing, and graphic design to build the idea for their project.

Project Media

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Feedback from the Judges:

Lev Parsons 👏 Physics Teacher at St. Bernard's School — Emoti-Con Judge
It’s clear that you’ve done your research and have designed a product with the needs of your future customers in mind! Customer insight interviews are a key component when successfully developing any new app or service. I am impressed by the amount of thought you put into a problem that is usually hidden from the general public but could make life easier for so many people. Great job and I look forward to better MTA service with your app!

Eddie Palacio III 👏 Admissions Counselor at University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design — Emoti-Con Judge
This project is very thoughtful to a niche population and community! Maybe this could exist as a signal of some sort? Or maybe.a beeper like device for employees? Just some ideas to poke around! I appreciate not only your idea and solution based thinking, but also the choice to focus on such a small but important population that can impact the efficiency of MTA travel for thousands! Great work!

Diane Levitt 👏 Sr. Director of K-12 Education at Cornell Tech — Emoti-Con Judge
Kimberly, thank you for thinking of our MTA workers! They make NYC work! I'm sure they appreciated the fact that you stopped to talk to them, and learn more about the challenges they face. I think you were right to look for simple solutions to these problems, because keeping the trains running on time means being able to make split second decisions. I wonder if your next iteration might include a few more buttons for other potential problems, such as a sick passenger or no air conditioning in a car. As a fellow New York subway rider, thank you for working to make our travel safer.