Evan Palangio.

LocalEyez is a way finding application & service for Europe’s displaced nomadic refugees.


Ideation, Prototyping, Service Design, UX, User Research.

External Partner



Six Months

01.18 - 06.18

I worked with an innovation lab, based out of Stockholm to design a service for Nomadic Welfare.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably asking yourself right now “what the flip is Nomadic Welfare?” And while that is a totally valid question, part of this school assignment was trying to make sense of what we personally believed those words to mean. This project is a service design exploration with an attempt to make sense of this problem space on my own and develop a service around it.

The first thing I did was try to make sense of the topic.

I met with 3 designers at Förnyelselabbet to interview them about their experience with nomadic youth and refugees in Europe. What I initially learned:

1. 38% of Sweden’s asylum seekers are under the age of 18.

2. Migrants are currently spending at least 1/3 of their disposable income in order to stay connected to the internet.

3. The likelihood of making it to safety, increases by nearly 60% when refugees have a smart phone with internet connection.

I was inspired to create a service catering to Sweden’s displaced youth due to Förnyelselabbet's concerned focus on adolescent migrancy. I started by creating a How Can We? question which was:

Customer journey map outlining how our external client recieves funding and comes into contact with Sweden’s migrant youth.

“How can we put technology into the hands of Sweden’s migrant youth within the first 48 hours of their arrival?”

And while I learned a lot, I knew I needed to validate my idea further...

Through research, I was discouraged to discover that 86% of nomadic refugees already have a smart phone - this fact essentially ruined my original idea. However, one of the glaring issues reported by refugees to the UNHCR was that their hardware was, in fact too old to run up-to-date firmware and new apps that could make their voyage less taxing.

In 2014 the UNHCR reported that 69% of migrants were using an outdated smart phone (prior 2007). Perhaps there was still a way to help migrants by putting technology into their hands? This new discovery led me to change my "How Can We?" question one last time:

“How can we put up-to-date technology into the hands of Europe’s nomadic refugees?”

Introducing, LocalEyez.

I met and talked with Förnyelselabbet once again to try and understand some of the dangers facing nomadic refugees throughout all of Europe. I knew I wanted to create a service that:

1. Put up to date technology in the migrant's hands.

2. Increased the privacy/safety of migrants by creating an app that could only be accessed by phones that had this app installed manually.

3. Allows migrants to effectively communicate with each other, as well as crowd source information in a specific area.

After talking with Förnyelselabbet it was apparent that most migrants had the desire to communitcate with other migrants on a similar journey.

With this new set of information I had to validate my assumptions once again.

My largest concern was having a steady flow of viable hardware, I poled a diverse cross section of individuals in my community to ask how often they update their smart phones. Personal research, along with online reports, validated my belief that we could supply hardware at a steady rate.

Finally, it was time to open up Sketch and make this thing a reality!


After drafting 5 concepts, there were two that I felt held the most potential for this app. The first concept (left) was map focused and inspired by apps like Waze. The second concept (right) was inspired by Twitter with a live feed of user generated posts. I took elements that I liked from both concepts, but there would be a heavier focus on the first concept. I thought the live map background was important for context and does a better job at displaying relevant information more visually.

Home screen iterations.

Pinning Locations.

I knew that using visual cues throughout this application would be über important since so many people from different countries would all be accessing this app to communicate and I wanted to eliminate language as a barrier. By using icons instead of language. users could communicate what aid is available in different locations without the use of many words. The 6 icons chosen were based on interview answers and workshops with refugees about what might be essential for a safe journey.

Locations + Directions

Perhaps just as important as pinning locations, is being able to navigate to the location. Users can easily see a location on their map as well as how many previous users have reported the same location. Being able to see multiple user reports about one location builds trust and confidence amongst users.

Conclusion & how I’d like to
take this concept further.

Coming from a visual background, creating a service from scratch was a totally new experience for me. Working with customer journey maps, sticky notes (a shit ton of sticky notes!) was also new territory for me. I completed this project as part of a school assignment but unfortunately could not make this product a reality due to the short school semester. I hope to reconnect with Förnyelselabbet and hold a workshop to test this prototype with real refugees to get real feedback from those who will benefit from an app like this. I created a low-fi prototype in InVision that you can try for yourself. Click here to give it a try!

Feel like this wasn’t enough for you? You can read my full case study on Medium.com.

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