A tailored navigation tool for first responders
Vijay Farmah, Alex Lee, Shin Liu
9/29/2017 - 12/13/2017
The role of the first responder is critical. Firefighters and paramedics rely on low-tech tools and remembering information, like street conditions or inactive fire hydrants.
Navi is a navigation system designed for firefighters and paramedics. There are two key functions. A tailored navigation for first responders, and a reporting function where first responders can input real-time road and on-scene conditions. According to our research, first responders are frustrated with the navigation to and from scenes by using the current tools they are using. Our proposed solution provides critical information to first responders, allowing them to fully focus their attention and energy to the crisis event they are responding to.
Over the total course of the project, we conducted secondary research and semi-structured interviews with first responders in order to get a better understanding of their day-to-days, the tools they use, and how it could be improved.
Semi Structured Interviews
We conducted semi-structured interviews with several firefighters and paramedic personnel. We asked our participants a number of questions relating directly to responding to emergencies, and address:
- What are first responders logistical needs not currently being met?
- What systems for communication and management are in place?
- What features do they have in place? What features are missing?
- What are difficult problems or barriers they face?
“We have this navigation system, but it was made for a little Honda, not our trucks. I’ve been here 22 years, so I know these streets. But if we get called out to West Seattle, then we’re gonna be using the system. And sometimes it’ll tell us to be making these turns that our truck can’t do”
“It’s 2017. Why can’t we use like FaceTime or something and just say, ‘here, that’s what the body looks like’?”
“If only I knew detailed information about the building while en route such as building material, or if it’s a high-rise. That would be very helpful. Also, a picture of the building or of the scene would be very helpful.”
“When a guy leaves (retires from the station) he takes all that street knowledge with him, without passing it down."
We sketched 30 concepts used as inspiration. Our ideation revolved around creating a wide variety of responses to our challenge.
After evaluating our concepts, we created and tested paper prototypes with stakeholders to address our assumptions and deepen our understanding of emergency response. We used the paper prototypes as starting points for informal interviews if the questions are not answered through testing alone.
Take-Away from testing:
- Crisis Care might be something for dispatch centers to use.
- Their plan of action for major disasters are well-established, but very low-tech. And they are not prepared for when radio towers go down.
- Currently using low-tech communication channels (radio and pager) and frustrated.
- Crisis care is probably not wanted for paramedics in high level crises, but might be good for minor injuries.
Crisis Route Planning
Take-Away from testing:
- There are no consistent navigation systems across fire station (depending on the state).
- More detailed route planning is wanted, as first responders expressed their frustration with their navigation to and from emergency scenes.
The following are descriptions of our flows with links to the interactive prototypes for these flows in InVision. If you cannot figure out how to proceed beyond a screen (though hopefully this does not happen), you can click anywhere on the prototype and it should highlight a hotspot that will lead you to the next screen.
Navigating to a Call with Route Planner
This flow shows how a paramedic might use our system to accept an assigned call from dispatch, check out the road conditions on his way to the call location, navigate to the call location, and receive directions for optimal parking once on the scene.
Reporting Adverse Road Conditions
In the event of a major emergency, there may be obstructions in the road. When first responders go out on their assessments of their assigned areas, they can use our system on their navigation tablets to report adverse road conditions that might affect emergency response routes which will then provide real-time updates of these obstructions to other first responders on the system. This flow shows how a responder might report obstructive flooding to the system.