Design and prototyping of a mobile application to help students in an emergency situation. Work undertaken while studying at Indiana University.
IU Safe is a mobile application designed to help students in the emergency situations like critical health issues, personal safety, theft etc. in and around the Indiana University campus. It act as a communication bridge among students and campus security officers. Also, it educates students about safety resources available on the campus. The application offers easy and simple interface considering the possibility of a user under a stressful situation.
User Research & Interaction Design
Sandeep (UX Designer)| Pruthviraj(UX Designer)| Carlos ( Visual Designer) | Hailey ( Visual Designer)
Sep’16 — Oct’16 | 3 Weeks
To design a preventive and reactive solution in order to make campus feel safer in emergency situations (i.e. late night, bad weather, health related issues etc.) for students on campus.
Artifacts and Findings
Field Observations / Stakeholder’s Interview
Conducting observation study for safety issue was not an easy task. We did our best to observe the environments and venues around campus that make calls to safety concerns for our interviewees and personas. We spent time around campus (classroom buildings, centers and residence halls) both during the daytime and at night to see if anything could be gleaned from such observation. We interview college students and IUPUI police officers.
- Students feel safer when they see campus police around
- The smartphone is an important channel of communication.
- Students feel comfortable talking to the fellow students when involved in a hostile situation.
- Students are unaware of on-campus safety resources like emergency call box and safety ride service.
Campus Police Officers
- Campus police have dispatch center and police cars are equipped with the laptop, mobiles, and cameras.
- Patrolling officer relies on the Dispatch unit for the information like location and severity of the situation.
- Dispatch unit can’t locate caller unless caller informs explicitly
Problem Space Exploration
- There are number of safety app but none of them is tailored to take advantage of local infrastructure
- Apart from sending the location or help message these applications do not offer any other features.
- The majority of applications were reactive in nature instead of proactive.
- The applications we reviewed had an overly complex user interface.
IDEAS Picked for further exploration
- A location sharing and tracking mobile application
- A safety information and resource awareness application
- A wearable device which could monitor heart rate and send SOS signal to friends and family in case of emergency.
After analyzing the the research insights, we settled on the minimum viable product (MVP) which would satisfy following requirements.
1Proactive: The design solution should proactively inform the user about safety procedures, and alerts regarding possible hostile situations to boost safety awareness on campus.
2Integrated: The design solution should promote and seamlessly integrate existing infrastructures and service like emergency call and safety ride service respectively.
3Reactive: The design solution should act as a communication bridge between students and security personnel. It should empower the student to quickly share location with friends, security personnel in case of emergency.
The final solution is an amalgamation of the first (A location sharing and tracking app ) and second idea ( A Safety Information/Resource App), in favor of feasibility and opportunity to use existing resources on the campus. The wearable device solution was eliminated due to the cost involved on the user side, which could result in lower user adaptation.
How does it works?
Low Fidelity Prototype
The low fidelity prototype was subjected to user testing and cognitive walk-through. We found that meaningful icons and labeling was required to make the application more intuitive. Also, notifications of safety ride time and location sharing was important. Additionally, user’s input on friends location backed design decision of having the location of friends on map
Improvement through successive iteration
The prototype evolved after each iteration improving user experience, interaction, and visual design.
High Fidelity Prototype
After testing the prototype with students, we realized that our solution very close to solving safety issue on the campus. The simplified user interface with easy to access feature like location sharing, SOS alert, and safety ride service received positive feedback during user testing. In future, this application can be integrated with heart rate monitor sensor, voice commands or a hardware key to activate the SOS alert.
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