We want police officers to provide services to homeless encampments

Navigation Team App for Seattle Police Department

The Mayor's Office came to Seattle IT with a request for a tool to support a new multi-disciplinary ‘Navigation Team’ responsible for providing outreach at encampment sites before, during, and after cleanups. The application needed to be primarily accessed in the field on tablets, but must also be available through a web browser or mobile phone.

There was limited budget and resources so I was assigned to the project as researcher, business analyst, designer, and developer. This was the second application built by city staff using Microsoft Dynamics.

Research

I gathered requirements through collaborative conversations with internal functional groups, conducting policy research, and reviewing existing systems and processes. I sorted through complex business and user needs through tools such as workflow mapping.

Users Values Workflow

Engagement

I worked closely with a key group of stakeholders from all departments involved including the Mayor's Office, Police Department, and Finance and Administration.

One of the ways that I got early buy-in for my concept is by creating a jumbo paper prototype to walk through with a dozen people in a small conference room.

As design and development progressed, I demonstrated the app at each stage to gather additional requirements and test assumptions. The app evolved iteratively with feedback at every step.

Low-fidelity paper prototypes Stakeholders Navigation Team in the field

Design Solution

I was able to build the core functionality for this app in two weeks and spent six weeks total refining it with end-users. The result was simple, elegant user interface that met the needs of my core user group: police officers.

Navigation Team app on laptop and phone Navigation Team app on mobile phone

“I had the pleasure of working with Amie on this special, tightly scheduled project. With few documented requirements and a host of changing stakeholders, Amie, almost single-handedly, combed through related documentation and systems to produce a solution that filled the gap between existing systems, departments, and processes. The delivered solution enables the effective collection of pertinent data in a single tool, resulting in a repository that will support reporting needs for many audiences.

Amie’s dedication and commitment to producing a quality product were evident through every step of the process. Her stakeholders are thrilled with the delivered solution and consider her a creative and collaborative partner, as do I!”

– Julie Light, Senior IT Project Manager, Seattle IT

Outcomes

A project like this typically costs an upwards of $300,000 to create through a vendor. By working with a SAAS solution, I was able to quickly create a working application. I saved our organization time and money while providing a good user experience for our staff in the field.

As of August 2018, this application has been in use for over 15 months by the Navigation Team and is the primary data-collection tool that police officers use when conducting outreach at encampments.

Navigation Team outcomes

The numbers listed above are from October 2017. The Navigation Team made over 7,300 contacts in 2017 to a total of 1,829 individuals. As part of their efforts, 1,179 individuals accepted some sort of service and 675 individuals were successfully referred to shelter. Preliminary figures for 2018 show the team is on pace to surpass last year’s outreach outcomes, making over 7,000 contacts to people experiencing homelessness and 474 referrals to shelter through the end of July.

Navigation Team App on desktop Navigation Team App on tablet