Product Design


Beat is an app that connects people across NYC neighborhoods. It has three main features: Share, Learn, and Help. By promoting street vendors as trusted resources, its goal is to create social cohesion—what experts say is the best counterterrorism strategy.  
My Role
Product Designer
16 weeks
My Responsibilities
UX Research
Interaction Design
Product Design

People feel vulnerable in open, public spaces


Food vendors are incentivized to locate themselves in popular, public spaces--the same spaces terrorists target


Promote food vendors as familiar resources in public spaces

Reduce feelings of vulnerability by developing predictable anchors of trust throughout public spaces. People could plan their desired paths through the city to encounter these people.

Primary User

Sandra Clarkson

Public Relations Manager
Ridgewood, BK
Sandra is a 34 year-old public relations manager who lives in Brooklyn. She’s stressed about moving to a new apartment. 3 days a week she stops by Marguerite's cart for a tamale on her way home from work.
Her Challenges
  1. She feels vulnerable around strangers who don't look like her friends.
  2. She feels vulnerable in open public spaces.
  3. Armed authority figures make her nervous.
Hidden Value
She can advocate for vendors on her desired paths through the city, so that others may trust them.

Secondary User

Marguerite Mackenson

Food Vendor
Ridgewood, BK
Marguerite is one of 3,000 food vendors in NYC. She immigrated 20 years ago from Haiti where she studied to be a doctor. She's raised her kids in Brooklyn where she makes and sells tamales.
Her Challenges
  1. New York City restricts vending licenses and spaces for her to park her cart.
  2. She's often at risk committing minor violations, which incur fines that could easily bankrupt her.
  3. Fines worsen her credit and ability to receive loans to fight fines.
Hidden Value
She is a predictable presence in public spaces during Sandra's commute to and from work.
User flows & Wireframes

User flow

I mapped out a high-level user flow to flesh out key moments, paying closer attention to the product experience.



User journey mapping

One of the first things I did to understand the key moments of Sandra's experience was map out her journey through the service.

User interviews

I created a questionnaire and spoke with 6 people about how they determine someone else in a public space to be a threat. Interviewees varied in cultural and economic background, and yet their answers to the question were resoundingly similar. They determine someone to be a threat based on "a feeling".

I learned that people use their intuition, or heuristics, which is grounded in their skewed exposures to people, cultures, and environments. Upon further research, I discovered that a person is likely to trust someone who reminds them of someone they've trusted in their past.

This means that an encounter with someone from a different culture might trigger feelings of suspicion.

Subject matter expert interviews

I spoke with 16 experts in counterterrorism and public spaces about how to make public spaces safer to defend against terrorism.

Users + SMEs  

  • People use their gut to determine who is a threat in public spaces.

  • Counterterrorism strategy considers people to be threats rather than resources.

  • Social cohesion is the best counterterrorism strategy.