UX Research & Product Design & UX Design
Collaborator: Shreya Indukuri Catherine Most Amy Zhang
The design challenge for Vivifi is to figure out the workflow and information system for a sexual assault tracking application and it's a project for Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation (DALI) lab at Dartmouth. It is a system aiming to improve the way in which law enforcement manages cases, with an initial focus on sexual assault cases and eliminate the rape kit backlog, to digitize case management, and to create a faster, more sensitive and victim-friendly process of tracking sexual assault evidence kits among police, hospitals and forensic labs.
The current system for tracking sexual assault kits across the United States is a long and frustrating process from the side of the victim, usually lasting nine months on average. Our client was once a victim of sexual assault. During the infinite waiting process for the result of evidence, the only person she could contact was the police officer. However, the police couldn't give her much information because it was also difficult for him to get the responses from the hospital and forensic lab. People felt "lost" in the case management process, because an efficient tracking system is lacking.
Hence, there are millions of kits that have been backlogged for so long that their contents have expired. The methods of tracking and transferring these kits is archaic and based on institutional memory. The communication system is outdated, too. Officers usually only use Telephone or E-mail to track the cases. A more digitalized system is needed.
Before diving into the design of the system, it was important to figure out the stakeholders and how the whole process of sexual assault case works:
Based on the research, we found out there are three governmental departments involving in this management process:
- Police: keeping the kit as temporary evidence and long-term evidence before delivering the kit to the lab. They are also the connecting points in the whole process, who will keep track on the kits to make sure everything goes well.
- SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner): creating a rape kit for collected evidences from the victim, then handing it off to the police office.
- Forensic lab: Conducting DNA analysis for the rape kit and submitting the results to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System, the FBI’s criminal forensic database)
FIELD TRIP RESEARCH
After figuring out the basic process of the case management, we decided to take a field trip to the police department in Lebanon, NH to get more detail information. Here are the takeaways that we learnt in the field trip:
- Rape kits are just temporary stored in the police department before sending to the lab
- Police evidence storage facilities - rape kits are booked into evidence, but a detective and/or prosecutor does not request DNA analysis
- Crime lab facilities - rape kits are submitted for testing, but are awaiting DNA analysis and have not been tested in a timely manner
- Many hospitals, labs, and police stations still use papers, excel documents to store evidence
- Police officers can only call or email the SANE and Lab for tracking
- Each department has their own interior system for communication, but they are not connected to each other
We started our brainstorm with a work flow for the tracking system. Considering the privacy of the victims, we defined three user types with different privileges in operation. Victims are not included in the system as the first version, because of security problems. We originally put the work flow on the whiteboard, so we can easily illustrate it to people and get feedbacks. After rounds of iteration, we figured out final version:
As security is an important part in this system and we have to take into consideration how much information for a kit is viewable for different user types, we decided to make a database structure to list related details. It helps us to better understand how things will work.
USER FEEDBACKS & ITERATION
Based on the work flow we made, we decided the contents are viewable by users, but how detailed that should be varies from different types of users. For example, the name of victim is only available for police officers who take responsibility to this case, while SANE and lab staff can just read the Case ID. However, when we illustrated this idea to the polices as our potential users, they were afraid that the internet is not safe enough to keep this private information.
Based on this feedback, we decided to make Vivifi as a tracking system. Users can only check the status of the kit, but never the contents, even though the forensic files are digitalized in this system. And we made a new storyboard for this idea on paper:
Before diving into the prototypes, we made a rough application map to better define elements in each page. Following the devision of user types, we figured out the related information in each interface and possible operations:
Based on the research we did, we came to the prototyping part. We used Figma for low fidelity design, so we could also work on the interaction in groups at the same time.