In a midst of pandemic, there are many initiatives around the globe to help relief the loads from healthcare workers. Here is one of them. I participated in the covid-19 hackathon to see if my expertise as a UX designer would help or not. Contact tracing is a result. The application itself is not a success model. Read more to see the learning I got.
Type : User Experience Design Challenge participation to Covid-19 Hackathon UK
Delivery : Persona Studies, Concept and Interaction Flow
Tools : Figma
Time Spent : 5 days
The application was designed and developed within a short period of time amidst the pandemic in Early Sprint 2020 (March) in the participation of UK Covid-19 Hackathon.
The main idea is to help user note down who has he met, see the infection possibility and if he need to avoid meeting anyone due to high risk or not. The application is intended to be use personally along with an advice from healthcare expert. And it was designed before the national health care release the official contact tracing application by Oxford University.
The application allows user to fill in contact(s) and the meeting location during the day. When filled, the contact will be linked through phone number (opt in). Once it is linked, the meeting incident will be created on both side. Hence, only one user need to fill in the information. There was also a thought of using NFC, Bluetooth and GPS technology to help in filling in but there were limitations (Eg. inaccuracy of bluetooth) and does not fit the timeframe, hence dropped.
On the backend side, graph database then created from the contact filling. User will create their own contact cluster: bubbles.
If any of user has tested positive, the other users will be notify via the cluster created by graph database. User is able to choose to notify anonymously or public. The application has different states as shown in figure above to tell user if he is primary / secondary contact and need to seek for doctor or not.
This is not completely original concept as we can see now that there are several initiatives with many countries' governments and academic sector for educational purposes.
During investigation and design iterations, I developed persona studies and user journey. And later on sketch a whole interaction flow of contact filling, notification and share recorded with healthcare workers for tracing purpose.
However, after a few months through the pandemic, I realized a very big mistake due to lack of knowledge resources.
During the design phase, I have never get infected myself and my contacts were clean. Until I discovered myself as a primary contact (high risk) to an infected person, and I realized that my design assumption has been all wrong.
Up until this point of time where we have vaccines introduced, there are so many got infected. And so many without any symptom. Then how is that person knows when to notify his contact?
I found the biggest issue with the contact tracing, you will never know when you should notify your contact(s) until you are confirm tested positive on Covid-19.
Through spring and summer (March - September) 2020, Covid-19 test kit / procedure is limited. Many countries' government didn't allow public test unless person inquiry shows several symptoms or in risk group that need immediate healthcare.
In addition to that, infected person didn't get test right from the first day they get infected. Meaning the primary or high risk contacts will not get notified in time and they could infect others.
From this finding, my opinion would be that the contact tracing application could work on the basis that user is able to get test for Covid-19 and confirm the result rapidly. And the contacts doesn't grow which could directly translate to travel bubble or lockdown. But that won't require a private contact tracing application.
We cannot assume that lockdown is the best choice to control the infection since economy and society need to run. We have vulnerable people not only by physical conditions but also mental and financially. There is no correct answer but we help the society in the way that we can.
Above statement is my opinion. I would concluded that private contact tracing application is not a success story. But I would defined it as a good practice on how to user experience design practice in crisis; define the wicked problem, set hypothesis up, do design iterations and fix the solution as it goes.