Covid-19 has swept across the globe at rapid pace, shining a light on our communities and the things we need to prioritise. Different technological solutions have come to the forefront giving us virtual solutions to physical problems in this situation – apps like houseparty allow you to virtually play games with friends and GoodSam volunteers pivoted from being an app used by off duty medical professionals to a national volunteer platform with over 400 000 people sign up to volunteer remotely and on the front line in just one day. Services like Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have flourished and professionals around the world are working to put resources and classes online to help spread their message and learning. There has also been a selection of Covid-19 specific apps which capture symptom tracking data and are being widely used across the country with talk of larger organisations including an Apple-Google partnership working on tracking platforms to understand the spread.
One of the things that has been the topic of many discussions this week is ‘what next’ how will the country leave isolation safely and in a controlled manner to make sure any second outbreak stays within the medical boundaries. Many of the platforms just discussed along with this looming question inspired me to explore the concept of an app which tackles building a community, skill sharing and clear tracking to understand where the virus is going and therefore giving clear recommendations for peoples movement or quarantine.
When looking at how our communities have responded in the last 3 weeks I believe the most important potential pages for this app are:
- Using phone GPS – A welcome page, explaining how are doing, have you been in the same area as anyone with Covid-19? have you performed the full duration of your self isolation successfully? How are you friends doing with their isolation? How are your symptoms?
- An events and skill share page – creating a hub of local and international events on a simple calendar so you are aware of what is going on with a simple category filter for faster navigation.
- Asking for and giving help – platforms like local community facebook groups have been excellent for this, but could there be the addition of a ‘call for help button’ or ‘offering services’ tab, similar to that of the visual impairment support app ‘be my eyes’ where sighted volunteers support those with visual impairments, virtually.
There are a couple of lessons I learnt through previous experience and user testing in developing b our bridge, which have led me to create multiple linking aspects of this app rather than keeping it simply as a GPS tracker.
The first is that previous user research said that people were more willing to download an app if it gives them some clear benefit and is used regularly. Otherwise it is more likely to be deleted due to phone storage or simply forgotten about. The concept to combat this is to incorporate a community, getting people to log their symptoms as they come to check on the daily or weekly events. In some ways it is using nudge theory to create behaviour change which helps build data on the virus.
The second is the idea of a central app rather than multiple apps which facilitate individual tasks. To hold the maximum attention of users and also be time efficient having a single destination to perform all tasks. It draws similarities with smart phones themselves – no longer do we carry round calculators, cameras, books, a walkman, we want all this from one device, so we should also focus on considering this in the UX world.
NB app screens, user flows and renders to come