Police E-Box Mobile App
The design and development of a Windows Mobile application for Northumbria Police
Northumbria Police is one of the largest forces in the country and is recognised as one of the top-performing in the UK.
Komodo were selected after a competitive public tender process, to work with Northumbria Police in the design and development of their Police E-Box Windows Mobile application.
Police E-Box is a multi-phased project that sees the integration of mobile technology into police officers day to day workflow streamlining access to information and reducing load on resource control and radio channels via smartphone technology.
An Agile Approach
Delivery of the Police E-Box app for Northumbria Police was achieved by utilising the principles of Agile.
The project was steered via persona-driven user stories as the mechanism for describing the functionality required within the Police E-Box mobile application as opposed to rigid specifications.
A user story is a description consisting of one or more sentences in the language of the end user of a system that captures what they need to do as part of his or her job function. In this case, the user is a Police Officer.
One user story encapsulates the action of one function within the application making it possible for our UX/UI designers and software developers to create a solution that provides all the features and functionality required to satisfy the requirement of each story.
The ‘whole’ functionality of the application is comprehensively described using a backlog of multiple user stories and once all the requirements of all of the user stories were met, the product was deemed functionally complete.
Some examples of user stories from the project:
“As an officer, when I am allocated to an incident I want to get the incident number, grade, headline of incident, location and summary with any warnings so that I know the basic information of an incident before I get there”
“As an officer I want messages/events associated with allocated / subscribed to appear in a queue which I am able to select from the queue so that I am kept informed about the incidents and can act appropriately”
“As an officer I want data searches to requires only a minimum data entry as I do not have the time to do lots of input when searching”
“As an Officer I want to perform a vehicle search on NPICCS from my mobile using full VRN, make, model, type and colour to receive information about a vehicle to help identify a vehicle and to make informed decisions”
During the Police E-Box project we iterated design and development in 2 week sprints rather than adhering to a predetermined schedule which allowed us to adapt requirements as we progressed through the project and gained feedback from the users.
Early project sprints were focussed on defining UX deliverables and the execution of the user interface; interactive prototyping was used to present design thinking and progression to a steering group comprised of police officers from various sections of the force to get insight into how they worked and collate feedback directly from them that we could use to improve and iterate design work.
Our aim was to produce an application that absolutely worked in the real world for the police officers so regular interaction with the end users was fundamentally vital to the design process. This was facilitated through regular workshops with officers who would have the opportunity to conduct a ‘hands on’ test of the prototype.
Built on Windows 8, it was decided to utilise the pivot control design pattern as set out by Microsoft as the most viable design form factor.
A Windows phone pivot app provides a quick way for a user to manage views so this was particularly suitable approach for the Police E-Box application where speed of use was a critical design issue as officers cited speed of access to data as a high priority.
The pivot control UI is used for filtering large datasets, viewing multiple data sets and rapid switching of app views and is operated by the user swiping or panning left to right on the interface to advance to the next ‘pivot’ view which can then be drilled down into, and tasks undertaken by the user.
The pivot control comes with built-in support for touch interaction and navigation, special gesture functionality is enabled by default providing a sleek user interface that is intuitive and easy to use.
Detailed task-flow diagrams allowed the design team to produce high fidelity wireframes and allowed us to understand how all of the elements within the application needed to fit together and provide a consistent user experience.
The wireframes were the next step and provided the basis from which to apply a visual design style that would suit the application and, most importantly, the user.
Again, user stories were the base reference point so at each stage of wireframing the design team made sure that they were aligned with the user stories and ensuring that the task flow was facilitated as economically as possible.
A full library of task flow diagrams and wireframes was established providing a detailed breakdown of the feature set for the development team as well as a strong structure for design of the GUI. All of which was exhaustively tested with the project team at Northumbria Police.
The priority during the design of the user interface (UI) design was to provide the police officers intuitive operability in demanding situations i.e. super easy to use with clear and uncluttered controls that felt truly native to the device. This has obvious operational benefits and also minimises training requirements.
Bespoke UI / UX Elements
Reduced Resourced Cost