Resource Portal for Vulnerable Populations

Project Summary

This project is a collaborative effort to improve the accessibility of information on services for vulnerable populations. The primary collaborators are US Digital Response, the City of Oakland, CA, local resource providers and data brokers. The key deliverable is a mobile-first web app, the “Resource Portal”, that provides information on supportive resources and services within the City of Oakland and surrounding Alameda County.


  • Project Lead (USDR)
  • User Experience Design
  • Stakeholder Management
  • User Research



July, 2020 – present

The Problem

Thousands of people in the City of Oakland, and surrounding Alameda County, have unmet needs for basic resources. This persistent problem has exacerbated due to the ongoing Pandemic. There are hundreds of resource providers within the County who seek to meet the needs of the local vulnerable populations. However, there are numerous barriers that inhibit people in need from connecting with resources available to them.

Thousands of people in Alameda County have unmet needs for basic resources and services.

The pandemic has led to substantial changes in information regarding supportive resources and services. Remote means of communication have become all the more valuable in light of the need for social distancing. However, existing sources of online information have proven to be inaccessible and challenging for the very users they seek to serve. Improvements in the accessibility and user experience of online resource information can help close the gap between available resources and those in need.

Our Solution (Mobile-First Web App)

Our team developed an understanding of the problem space through conversation with local resource providers. We learned about the wide range of barriers standing between a vulnerable individual and the support they need, the “support gap”. Our team identified opportunities to reduce some of these barriers through improvements in online communication of information related to supportive services and resources. The result is a progressive web app that leverages existing resource data and presents it in an inviting interface that offer many benefits over competing alternatives.

The pandemic has heightened the need for better communication of resource information.

Comparative Improvements

  • Mobile optimized
  • Enhanced accessibility
  • Simplified navigation
  • Results filtering
  • Quick contacts support
  • Improved legibility

Our Process

Provider Interviews

One of the first questions I asked when I joined this project was if we had spoken with resource providers or their clients. The team had not.

I drafted a research plan, solicited buy-in from our partners at the City of Oakland, and set up interviews with a handful of providers. We learned a lot!


  • Many clients are sheltering out of reach of services
  • Providers have zero bandwidth for new practices or tools
  • Providers primarily communicate with clients via offline methods


  • Online communication is preferable for some clients
  • Current online portals are difficult for clients to navigate
  • Vulnerable population has expanded as a result of the pandemic


Evaluation of Current “Go To” Resource Portal

Opportunities for improvement

  • Optimize for mobile
  • Improve legibility (reduce noise, clarify visual hierarchy)
  • Simplify initial category navigation
  • Add search filters
  • Add language support
Mobile screenshots of (the current primary site for resource info)

Data Flow Map

A concept map showing the flow of resource data from its sources, through our online portal, and to external outputs


An early set of wireframes exploring a 2-column layout for resource categories


Some of the icons used in the portal including originals (by me) and others from Noun Project (which I further customized)

UI Prototype (Figma)

A screenshot of the latest UI mockup in Figma

I built the user interface (UI) design for the resource portal using Figma. A demo of the latest iteration of the UI can be viewed here.


Live Demo Site

The current build of the live demo site can be viewed here.

Launch & Further Iteration Pending

Our team is currently in a holding pattern until we reconnect with our City partners and stakeholders after the holiday break.