Professional, Dedicated, Adventures, Determined, and Logical.
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I was tasked with exploring how digital twins can support first responders and design and develop a prototype...
Starting a UX research project is always hard but this one is exceptionally harder because of COVID-19 ...
My solution is to create a navigation app that benefits real-time from 5G traffic data to help firefighter navigate safer ...
I was tasked with exploring how digital twins can support first responders and design and develop a prototype based on UX research. I chose firefighters as my primary first responders as needed to focus on a category of first responders to be able to produce a practical solution.
I needed to devise a 12 weeks plan to scope the problem, perform my research, analyze the results, ideate a product based on that, produce a prototype and finally perform usability testing.
I started with a rather simple question. what needed to be known? to answer that question I started with reaching out to the firefighters and while waiting for them to get back to me, I studies the current literature and read blogs and watched Youtube videos as secondary research. Based on my research, I came to 3 main research assumptions:
No speed limit for emergency vehicles high speed leads to transportation accidents. According to Centre of full employment and equity's study accidents and injuries are amongst top 10 causes of stressful incident which has adverse psychological effects.
Weather conditions,Lack of real-time emergency vehicle’s position,Several screens of information engulfing the driver.
Digital Twins represent an idea where we can use tools and technologies to map data and information from a real thing to a digital one. Adoption of digital twins is depended on operational technologies and high speed cellular capacity of 5G network is an enabler for digital twins.
Download my initial assumption presentation where I discussed above steps and presented the results
So I started with reaching out to every fire and rescue services in Australia, such as Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and Country Fire Authority (CFA). However, I only received a rejection letter 😢 indicating that they are not available for interview. Next I went to multiple Fire stations and gave my personal details but again, no call back!
In the midst of this, I realized that I can reach out to the firefighters individually. So I activated my LinkedIn premium account and started sending InMail messages to them. I managed to get two firefighters for my interviews. A male leading firefighter with 16 years of experience who is currently driving fire trucks and a female leading firefighter with 9 years of experience.
I conducted two semi-structured, half an hour interviews where I asked ten questions. semi-structured interviews help elicit richer information about participants’ experience according to Lazar. I started the interview with an introduction, explaining the aim of the research. Then follow up with warm-up questions to encourage open conversation. I used predetermined questions but also used probing techniques such as echoing participant’s voice to extract more details, as suggested by Blandford.
As fire service, we are pretty rudimentary, using systems like paper maps and printouts
I used Zoom video call and explained to my interviewees that even though I'm recording the call but only audio is going to be recorded and used for analysis. As it is important to get consent I've prepared a consent form online using Qualtrics you can download the example consent form.
Throughout my work, I found Otter to be very productive for converting interviews to transcripts. For this project I have used Otter for interview coding. I used the materials to construct my affinity diagram. Below is a summary of my interpretations from the key points of the interviews. A full list of keys, facts, and Interpretation are available for download.
Download my email template
After conducting interviews I decided to focus on providing a solution that helps the firetruck drivers reach to the destination safer and faster. As for digital twin aspect I assumed that in the future we will be able to have a digital twin of traffic flow and use the real-time traffic data produced by it and carried by 5G network. With providing navigation solution as the main goal, I did not focus on technologies that produce the traffic flow digital twin as it would be out of the scope of my research.
After conducting my primary and secondary research, I have used the data to perform analysis. First thing that I've done was to use Miro to organize related topics into distinct groups of information. This lead to creation of Affinity diagram . Affinity diagram helped me to summarize the interview results quickly and keep track of everything that came to my mind while analyzing the results. I've used the results of affinity mapping to create user personas 👫 . User personas are fictional characters that help designers and researchers depict different type of users with unique features, goals and experiences.
Challenge: This activity would have been easier if all students have had the opportunity to get together, share and get feedback. I managed to get feedback from a 2 friends on my affinity diagram but I think my study, at this stage, could improve by incorporating more feedback.
Meet Andy O'Neal, my persona. He is 37 years old leading firefighter who works in one of the Melbourne's fire stations. He has over 16 years of experience. He is married and lives in one of the south east suburbs. he has been teaching new firefighters how to drive firetrucks for majority of his career. he loves his job and is very dedicated and determined to safety of the public and his colleagues.
Andy's pain points 😠 are:
"I want to be able to help people faster and safer"
— Andrew O'Neal
Experience: 16 Years
Professional, Dedicated, Adventures, Determined, and Logical.
Helping others, Being better driver, Self improvement, and Safety.
Drive safe and get to the emergency situation as fast as possible.
Paper map, No instructions while driving, and Traffic is unpredictable.
Download my persona PowerPoint templates
Imagine this scenario, Andy is hanging out with his colleagues watching the morning news at the station. It's towards the end of a long night shift and he is waiting for 9a.m to warp up, go home and sleep. Suddenly alarms go off, there is building in fire at 266 Ferrars St 📍. Andy rushes to the locker room to get prepared. Meanwhile he asks his navigators if they know how to get to Ferrars St. They quickly have a look at MelWays book to find the location. The speakers announce that a children is trapped inside th burning building, according to the latest reports. The officer is already got the printout of the map based on MelWay's website. Usually with every trip, there are four people on board. 1 driver, 1 senior officer, 2 navigators that sit at the back seats. Everyone is prepared and geared up and they drive out, from FRV fire station 38 in South Melbourne, and drive toward the location based on one of the navigator's recommendation using the printout of the map and MelWays book. Navigators constantly give directions to Andy. "take a right turn after the white car!" says one of the navigators. Andy is frustrated as there are two white cars up ahead so he asks for the exact street name and slows down so he can read the street signs.
Suddenly they realize that there is an accident down the Dorcas St and now they are trapped in the traffic. Radio goes off, There is a firetruck at the location but fire is worst than expected and they need help urgently to save the kid who is trapped in the building. In a split second, Andy decides to go against the traffic (counter flow) to avoid congested route. Road is busy but everyone pulls over as soon as they see the firetruck. He manages to get away and reaches at the location just in time to put down the fire and save the kid.
Andy feels tiered and proud at the same time. deep down however, he wishes there was a better way to navigate to the location safer and faster. If only he could find out about the traffic situation in advance 😕
This analysis 🧑🏼🏫 helped me to realize what points in a firefighter's journey I should focus on. As it's obvious from the Journey's image, mood is negative around driving step of the journey.
I started with low-fidelity and thumbnail images. Once I started putting down my thoughts on paper, I realized having rough visuals in front of my eyes helps me with forming my ideas better. So I kicked off my designs with thumbnails AKA creative blocks using just pen and paper 🎨
I have produced two sets of designs, each with 4 different designs. first set is communication with the fire truck using 5G enabled devices. Ideas from using traffic light to transmit real-life traffic information to the fire truck all the way to using drones that fly at the same speed of the firetruck and provide real-time traffic data using 4 cameras. The other sets and thumbnail designs are targeted toward providing navigation guidance to the driver. Even though that was not the primary focus of my project (based on the research and analysis I decided to focus on navigator's role in navigation), I wasn't sure enough to completely dismiss the navigation instructions to the driver. hence, I produced a set of designs ranging from using voice instructions without any visuals to providing a translucent head-up display. I've received several feedback during catchup with classmates and friends that inspired me drawing those thumbnails.
Challenge: This activity requires a lot of feedback but due to COVID 19 health safety considerations I wasn't able to communicate well. for next time, I will use digital drawing tools like Wacom so I can update and share my designs easier.
For structure and functionality, I produced my navigation prototype using printouts and a device mockup i made out of plastic paper. I've decided to make a box for the device to help firefighters visualize the final product better, also to move buttons to top right corner and away from the map view. I went to Officeworks to get all the materials ⚒️ I needed to make the box. As for the box, I have used makercase's website to design a Kerf bent box. My box design is available for download. Next step was to printout the box on a paper and cut the plastic paper around the design. During this phase I kept an eye on my Miro board to make sure i'm not missing anything.
Challenge: 0.8mm Quill Polypropylene sheet, Kerf box material, that I picked was hard to cut. Next time I'll use either cardboard boxes or very thin plywood sheet.
My initial low-fidelity prototype had a simple screen with three buttons on it. I had to go back and forth a lot as I got into details of routing and finding out what looks better on the map. Finally I finished my low-fidelity prototype with the following features:
A recent study proved that a single redesign after feedback from user testing improved usability by 38%! Inspired by that and after producing the prototype, I have presented it to my interviewees to get feedback. I used user testing at this stage because I wanted to validate the design first. I used direct observation method for several reasons such as it helps with creating a natural task flow with my paper prototype and watching users interact with it. it is important to test a low-fidelity prototype as I can revise and redesign way easier than producing a digital prototype but more importantly I didn't want to constraint myself to an app idea at this level.
To my surprise I have received positive feedback overall. However, the users recommended below points that i have incorporated in the prototype.
Challenge: Due to COVID 19's safety concerns people might be reluctant to touch a prototype so I performed this part by demoing it through my laptop and observed user feedback such as eye movements and facial expression.
I Started creating my high-fidelity prototypes 🤓 using Adobe XD. I've used a plug-in called fancy maps to help me with design of the app. I tried to use familiar color palette to make sure firefighters feel related to the app at the first glance. As for the map, I used a familiar Google map view and used the exact traffic signs to increase efficiency and lower the learning curve. and SAVVY is born 👊
Challenge: Limited time of the project did not allow me to produce a separate style-guide for the app but I've used components and color palette to keep consistency in the designs.
You can download my AdobeXD file
The main objective of this part is to conduct a usability test of the SAVVY, and to present a possible solution of the problems I discovered during our usability tests. I chose usability testing to make sure the gap between how the app is designed and how it is received by real first responders. I will go through my test method, who participated in my tests and how we recruited them, the usability findings from my test, as well as recommendations on changes to the app to help address the issues I found. For this usability test, I mainly we used for first-click testing. Over a period of a week, I recruited two participants who already responded to my original interview. Both participants had to fill in a screener questionnaire for the first interview and their responses helped me decide if they were suitable for further testing. The consent form and their professional details are recorded. I concluded from my findings and analysis that while SAVVY app was efficient in terms of providing real-time data of traffic, it had several design issues regarding its usability, mainly revolving around it’s poor accessibility and efficiency, especially in sign in process. In order to solve those issues, I made some changes to the app. I believe that by modifying the app, it’s usability can be massively improved.
After analysis I realized the following points and updated my prototype accordingly.