ICS4Schools (Incident Command System 4 Schools) is an incident management application for schools and its faculty to track their students during incident procedures. It's based on the traditional incident command conventions, but in a digital form.
I was tasked with converting the analog procedures into a digital experience, and designing a mobile app (Android and iOS) that was simple, easy to understand, and quick to use during an incident. This application also tracked all the students and stored the information in a backend system for faculty and officials to review at any time.
I was the lead UX/UI designer, collaborating with the CEO and project manager to produce a high-quality, pixel-perfect iOS/Android application, and a secure backend administration web app.
I began designing this product by observing the current analog procedures during a live trial run. I noted the inefficiencies where I thought a mobile application could help, and interviewed various faculty members about their pain points and concerns about their current procedures.
The goal was to convert the method of clipboards and walkie talkies into a digital and secured process.
The faculty is assigned into several roles, in a chain of command. Students are transferred from faculty to faculty, in various staging areas. Each role requires a different set of features and rules.
In addition to creating the faculty roles, I created several user personas to understand how a typical faculty member thinks and interacts with their mobile devices (most teachers are not very tech-savvy, so the app needed to be simple). Because of this, I designed the mobile apps using the Apple Design and Material Design systems. This
iOS & Android Designs
Assign Roles & Classes
Faculty can quickly choose their assigned roles and classes, or take on more assignments during an emergency situation (I had to take into account very are use cases due to the chaotic nature of emergencies).
I designed these roles so no overrides could take place, to keep the chain of command and prevent any accidental confusion.
Manage & Track Students
To reduce cognitive load and keep users focused on the tasks at hand, I excluded all unrelated information for each role. Faculty can immediately see which students are still in their care, and the status and location of each of those students.
Safely & Securely Release Students
Redundancies were added to the transfer and release interactions to prevent any accidental actions. Every action taken by faculty is recorded and logged into the backend admin system (see below).
Coordinate with Faculty
Faculty can directly message or call each other, if needed. Even though there is a chain of command, all faculty must be aware of each others' roles and locations (again, for emergencies, in case something unexpected happens).
Although there is open communication, that only applies to the next role down. To prevent confusion and any issues, faculty must message the Incident Commander if they need to coordinate with someone above them.
Since this is an emergency app, if the emergency causes cell coverage to go down, the app still needs to work for the faculty.
To counter this issue, I incorporated an "offline mode" that requires faculty to use their walkie talkies (even though the new app removes these from usage in the new procedures, faculty is still required to have them). The mobile app becomes a digital clipboard, tracking all actions and logging them. Faculty communicates with their walkie talkies, and tracks their students with the app. Once a connection is re-established, the data is uploaded online and the app returns to its online mode.
Incident Management Desktop Application
Detailed Incident Reports
Each incident gives a detailed report of all acting faculty, every logged action/event, and all students are tracked.
I designed this with the intent of the report being submitted to authorities and school district boards.
Admins can easily change assigned faculty, and change their acting roles. Its simple design is meant for less tech-savvy users, like most school faculty. A lot of school administration software is outdated, but many faculty are still used to older interface conventions. I did not want to create a difficult learning curve, so I avoided designing anything complex.
Manage Schools & Districts
Admins can also manage the schools within their distract. The product is meant for schools of all types -- public districts with multiple schools, and single private charters.