SingleWire is a leader in the emergency notification space. SingleWire’s main product, InformaCast, is trusted by federal agencies, major universities, and large companies. Traditionally deployed via Cisco phones, email, and desktop software, in 2016 SingleWire was in the midst of a transition to mobile. They needed research to understand mobile use cases and to help brainstorm functionality for a mobile application.
SingleWire’s new Active Tracking mobile application had to major goals: 1) to allow members of a community to receive InformaCast notifications on the go (as opposed to via phone, desktop, or email), and 2) to allow users to send a distress signal, notifying authorities that they need help. Because of this, there were several actors involved (community members, administrators, dispatchers, respondents), and in the target population (in this case, college campuses), two major groups to interview: students and security personnel.
After 15 interviews were conducted (9 students, 6 staff) and a questionnaire sent out (27 respondents), personas and user stories were created to summarize findings and help guide design and product development. This context allowed us to design with real end-users in mind and have a basis to discuss the relevance of proposed features.
Traditionally, SingleWire’s technology has worked using Voice Over IP technology (and is integrated into most Cisco desktop phones), but there’s been a recent move to modernize the technology (because who has a desktop phone anymore, even in corporate settings), so a lot of SingleWire’s work is moving into the web and mobile space. I helped them think about this transition, as well as update the designs on some of their existing properties for web, mobile, and desktop.
Specifically, SingleWire’s desktop notifier application for Windows and OSX needed an update. They also have a web dashboard which inherited a lot of legacy functionality from their VoIP phones that was no longer relevant and needed to be redesigned. Finally, SingleWire is in the process of developing an application to track users movements live during an incident to help direct respondents.
For Active Tracking, we had two surprise learnings. First, that discretion was a major concern for students in the use of this application (specifically in social situations and if they’re being followed), which wasn’t initially on our roadmap. Second, that Officers and Dispatchers were interested in the ability to open a two-way chat (via voice, video, or text) with those in need to gather more information (e.g. where are they, what the issue is, for triage purposes, etc.), which altered the product’s trajectory as well.
Several design iterations were produced for updates to the desktop notifier, updates to the administrator dashboard (migrated to the web), and for the new mobile application, and SingleWire began moving some of those changes to production in mid-2017. Through the interviews (especially with staff members), we were able to identify customers interested in piloting the new functionality, helping guide the product as it goes live.