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Creating a Better Protective Suit Against Ebola


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CDC invited a few companies to come together in a design thinking session in DC to explore how a better suit could prevent the spread of Ebola for medical professionals. Armed with our sketch pads and sewing neddles, we participated in this two day event.

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Creating a Better Protective Suit Against Ebola

  1. 1. 1 Broadway. 14th floor Cambridge MA 02142 Workshop in Washington D.C. attended by Big Studio Creating a Better Protective Suit Against Ebola
  2. 2. About the Issue The 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak and the U.S Government Response: An Opportunity for Design Thinking At the beginning of 2014, an outbreak of Ebola spread from Guinea, in West Africa, to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Smaller outbreaks also appeared in Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria. As of December 16, 2014, affected countries reported a combined total of 7,347 deaths due to the outbreak. In September, 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières, the primary NGO in the region tasked with helping those affected by the outbreak, warned that they would fail to contain the illness’s spread without significant assistance from the world’s industrialized nations. Later that month, President Obama declared the outbreak a top priority for the federal government, and by October the administration convened the Grand Challenge to Fight Ebola, inviting innovators from all fields to come together to help stop Ebola's spread. 2
  3. 3. About the Challenge A Workshop to Improve PPEs 3 A version of the PPE worn by healthcare workers in West Africa Experts on health care delivery in West Africa identified the drawbacks of the Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, worn by health care workers as a barrier to effective health care delivery and improving health care outcomes for Ebola patients. On October 10-11, 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized a workshop bringing together a diverse group of professionals to redesign the PPE.
  4. 4. Day One Overview The workshop employed a design-thinking strategy to find an innovative new design for a PPE. • Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières, recently returned from the field, educated the attendees on ebola, treatment methods, and the process for putting on and removing the personal protective equipment. • Shifting teams moved from brainstorming possible solutions to prototyping Introductions & Education Brainstorming & Prioritizing Prototype Solutions from Morning Presentation of Prototypes 9-11 11-12 1-3 3-4 Big Studio’s Adam Hasler models a classic version of a PPE MORNING AFTERNOON
  5. 5. Afternoon Prototyping Breakout teams built simple demonstrations of the solutions pitched during the morning session. Above: a breakout team deconstructs versions of existing designs of PPEs in order to make improvements. Suit manufacturers provided the PPEs with the intent of bringing the new designs into production within weeks of the workshop. Left: A breakout team member modeling a PPE with design improvements. Team members removed elastic from the ends of the sleeves and legs, added an extra layer of fabric to go over the boot, and reconfigured the suit to open from the back instead of the front, thereby eliminating the need for an apron and thus additional layers of clothing that caused wearers of the suits to overheat. Lastly, team members began the early development of a new zipper, as they had found that small zippers were difficult to grab while wearing layers of gloves.
  6. 6. Day Two Overview The workshop changed venues for the second day, and took place at TechShop, a makerspace equipped with an endless variety of tools for fabrication. • Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Workshop participants created working prototypes of ideas developed and refined the day before, from redesigned head gear, ventilation systems, and a cooling apparatus, and used various tools, from sewing machines to create a new design of PPE suit to 3D printers to create a new plastic pull tab for zippers. • Hosting the second day of the event at the makerspace allowed many of those who had never employed innovation techniques or design thinking in their professional life the opportunity to get hands on, iterate, and create tangible solutions A workshop participant from the World Bank, left, discusses suit manufacturing techniques and design constraints with the head of research and development from a PPE manufacturer. Adam Hasler from Big Studio worked closely with these two and a designer from design and consulting firm IDEO to fabricate a new suit using designs developed the day before.
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  8. 8. 8 Key Takeaways • The approach of the Grand Challenge, which included not only the workshop but an online platform powered by OpenIDEO indicates a growing appreciation on the part of the federal government, as well as established businesses and NGOs, of the importance of process in developing and deploying solutions to urgent problems. • The mix of professionals made up of those experienced in design thinking and innovation strategy and those with deep, domain specific knowledge and expertise elicited great results. The process of learning from each other was not only enjoyable, but very productive and led to great results. • The decision of the organizers of the workshop to involved PPE manufacturers cannot be understated. Participants in the workshop all felt an added sense of purpose in their work, knowing that their design would likely make it into the field within weeks. • There’s tremendous potential in this approach for future challenges of all kinds.
  9. 9. Join us for our next session