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How the police and ambulance create mission-critical services through Google Design Sprints

Estonian public authorities develop their services through innovative development methods that are used by leading technology businesses worldwide. We will introduce one such method, namely the Google Design Sprint, and how Estonian Police and Estonian Ambulance have utilised it to quickly improve their services' user experience.

The Google Design Sprint is a problem-solving tool that has been in use for years by technology companies looking to speed up the development process of their products and services. The main emphasis of the Design Sprint is on speed. The Sprint allows for the completion of development projects, which would have otherwise taken months or even years, in just four days. Service developers are able to create a realistic concept from an idea in the span of four days, which can be immediately pre-analysed by programmers or turned into a Minimal Viable Product, or MVP. This allows for end-user testing of the concept before it’s sent for further development, thus saving months of labour time.

The Google Design Sprint was initially used mainly in tech companies and startups. Now, it has garnered the attention of public authorities. Every third Design Sprint organised by Futurist in the last few years has been ordered by a public authority. In the following paragraphs, we will introduce two Design Sprints – led by Futurist – that developed mission-critical services.

Police - new dashboard and workflow for police investigators

A next-generation dashboard prototype for Police investigators that was tested on end-users.
A next-generation prototype for Police investigators that was tested on end-users.

Police investigators use several different information gathering systems for their day-to-day work. The police and Estonian Ministry of the Interior Information Technology and Development Centre (SMIT) wished to create a new work desk for next-generation investigators, one that would be easy to use and that could provide access to all necessary information from one place. It was important that the desk would be able to access all necessary links and tasks, gathered onto one work desk from where the investigator would be able to delve into every detail, be it information about a person, an object or evidence. We also needed to solve the problem of gathering enough high-quality information from different sources and bringing it all onto one work desk tied to the correct user profile.

The Design Sprint gave birth to the concept of a case overview that was reminiscent of a futuristic work desk from CSI Miami that knew to gather all info in one place. The style of the work desk was inspired by the SpaceX Crew Dragon's spaceship user interface.

On the second day of the Design Sprint, votes were counted and a blueprint of the solution was drawn by hand. The important factors of the design were ease of navigation and quick access to information from the home page, creating a click-and-drag proceedings planner. On the third day, a realistic prototype was drawn and the fourth day was used to test the product on investigators.

The next-generation work desk prototype was a success. Police proceeded to improve the procedure planning logic after testing was complete. The concept, created in four days through a Google Design Sprint, is currently in the stage of pre-production analysis.

iPad app for ambulance car medics

Screenshot of An Estonian Ambulance application prototype for tablets was tested on end-users.
An Estonian Ambulance application prototype for tablets was tested on end-users.

Ambulance medics need as much information as possible about the victim, clear medical procedures and procedures concerning quick transport to the nearest hospital. Ambulance medics perform preparations before every emergency call. The current biggest obstacles is the unintuitive process of filling out the emergency services card and the sorting of information. In addition, it was important to have patient information available through synchronisation with the Estonian Patient Portal or the Health Information System. Quick patient identification was also an important factor. A concept for an iPad app used by ambulance medics was created through a four-day Google Design Sprint.

On the first day of the Sprint, a goal was set: to create a standardised and automated ambulance staff application that would take less than five minutes to fill in, even for resuscitation cases. The largest challenge was to determine whether medics receive feedback should problems occur with forwarding their card. In addition, a question was posed about whether ambulance medics would accept the new iPad e-ambulance application.

Votes were counted on the second day of the Sprint, and a draft of the solution was sketched. On the draft it was possible to identify the correct patient and to input their data onto a digital card. It was also possible to document the patient's injuries and how they were treated. On day three, a realistic prototype was created, which was tested on ambulance medics via video-call on day four.

The created solution and its internal logic were understandable and garnered positive feedback from end-user testing. The testers liked the compact and informative view, which comprised patient data, necessary times and navigation options. Positive feedback was also given to the app's photographic capabilities, its ability to quickly mark down the time and the possibility of marking down injuries on a 3D model. This concept created by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and Estonian Ambulance is currently in development.

Conclusions about Design Sprints

The process of the Sprint is as important as the outcome – bringing together a team of people and clearing everyone's schedules for four days may seem daunting, but it's certainly not impossible. A good Design Sprint can function as team-building that helps your team find its focus and move towards a common goal while developing a feeling of camaraderie that is vital for creating new projects.

View more Google Design Sprint case studies by clicking this link.

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