As a part of a design team, I have worked to bring the user-centered design principles we learn in class to the city governments. Our project created a texting platform for the police department to receive anonymous tips from any texting capable phone.
The City of Jackson and the Police department were facing a lack of public engagement and trust from the community. The city wanted a system in place which has low maintenance costs that would enable better information gathering from the community to enable better policing.
After pouring over the public data and statistics, our team interviewed citizens from various age groups, ethnicity and backgrounds in the city of Jackson. We were able to put to use our “contextual inquiry” techniques. We have also surveyed citizens in local coffee shops, recreational centers, churches and schools.
Analysis has revealed that although there is a consensus among citizens that the law enforcement should be kept informed, they did not want to be alienated from the community as “snitches”. A majority of the interviewees expressed that once the community realizes that the law enforcement is on their side, they will come around to the idea.
From our data, it was evident that smartphone access is sparse in the city of Jackson. So, we have brainstormed ideas to enable low technology solutions to solve the issue.
The solution we came up with was “Tips By Text”, it will be a cloud based system provided by the twilio telephony services. The software would receive a standard text message and will immediately strip all identifying factors from the text. The police will be able to see the body of the text message and nothing else.
The tool is designed to be similar to Microsoft Outlook to ensure less training time for the police. The estimated cost of running the tool is $100 per month.
The Project received a $200 award at the UMSI expoSItion conference and widely covered by the media in Southeast Michigan and the City of Jackson.