a platform that helps undocumented immigrants, allies, and researchers with their fight against I.C.E with real-time notification of I.C.E. activities.
As part of the Immersion Studio course at the MHCI+D program, we were asked to develop a product using Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). After brainstorming, our team realized that we are interested in activist collaborations within CSCW, especially those that fight with human rights violations.
At the time, the U.S. government appointed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agency to detain and deport undocumented immigrants inhumanely, where civilians were taken into private prisons comparable to internment camps. We realized the urgency of a platform that serves as a live, community-driven pipeline of information regarding I.C.E. activity in specific locales for those who are trying to track I.C.E. for their lives' safety.
Our goal was to build a platform focusing on helping undocumented immigrants avoid I.C.E., disrupt I.C.E. activity, remove serendipity caused by social media and help academicians and researchers study the activity of I.C.E. overtime.
Our primary users were undocumented immigrants and their allies, while our secondary users were activists, social media users who are interested in helping the undocumented immigrants and anyone who has a stake in the activity of I.C.E.
How might we provide people with succinct, credible, and localized information about I.C.E. activity in real-time?
Due to time constraints of the project, I was able to conduct only secondary research before diving into design ideation. Thus, I referred to:
Social Media Platforms to find news since reports were being posted on Facebook and Twitter in a very messy structure, which was hard to follow and understand.
Academic Articles to understand both technology’s risks amongst undocumented immigrants and how to verify data with crowdsourcing information.
News Sources to view recent I.C.E activities and to understand how people reach to activity reports through social media.
Local Grass-root Organizations to gain knowledge in how to educate undocumented people and allies on what to do when they spot I.C.E.
news headlines regarding this issue
an example of a social media reporting
People want to help, but their methods were not always the best. Most people were uninformed in the steps they should take if I.C.E. were to enter their community which makes taking action appear intimidating.
There was no publicized records on whether information had been validated when it comes to tracking I.C.E. Their behavioral patterns and social media use in targetting undocumented immigrants were unknown.
The undocumented immigrant population was left in fear of having to change their routines, flock to safe spaces, and live in uncertainty. They did not know if their community would support or reveal them if I.C.E. were to raid.
Edited images, low-resolution photos, and vague text posts on social media were difficult to trust or cross-reference for reliability. Along with those issues, there was no easy way to get updates on the I.C.E. activity that is being reported.
Concept 01: G.I.S. & Alerts
This concept is designed in the form of an application that uses activist organization and local news verification to provide succinct, accurate geolocation data regarding I.C.E. activity in a specific locale. The information is presented on an interactive heat map that is updated in real-time.
Users can sign up for push notifications that alert them of reported and verified ICE activity in the area of their choice.
Concept 02: Data Repository
I realized that our target users could benefit from an open-source data repository that is structured for external use. Therefore, while designing this concept, I wanted to provide users an option to filter and extract data of past ICE activity to be used to their own devices.
The objective here is to archive disparate information regarding I.C.E. activity.
Concept 03: Newsfeed & User Generated Verification
Finally, based on our research, I wanted to provide people a secure and verified incident reports to protect themselves and their families. I projected that a community-managed dashboard that organizes user-reported I.C.E. activity chronologically, to which other users may verify and leave comments, could benefit allies the most while avoiding I.C.E.
It was also important to implement an open feed platform for anyone to access while getting live updates; so that users can leave comments directing people to safe areas, give advice, or debunk fraudulent reports.
We decided to go with our final concept of the "Newsfeed and User Generated Verification" because soon after our critics, we realized that the "Data Repository" concept would be more of a “reflecting” concept of the other two. And even though we were most excited about the "G.I.S. & Alerts" concept since we believe that it removes serendipity from the issue the most, that concept wouldn't be possible to put in practice with short resources, especially considering our scope of having 1 week, as getting verification by third party resources takes time, money and investment.
In conclusion, given our scope, we decided to select the "Newsfeed and User Generated Verification" as our core concept for it is more achievable in the short term.
What is exciting, relevant and achievable?
For user testing, our main question was how willing are people to take activist action when presented with our application and do they understand the information presented. Initially, we wanted users to respond to a notification on their home screen from our app by going immediately to actionable next steps for confirming the presence of ICE at a specific location.
After user testing, we discovered the flow wasn’t intuitive. While users responded positively to the “Next Steps”, noting it as informative, the length of the content was overwhelming and some users felt that the concept was ill-placed. Moreover, most of our users did not know how to move on without going through all of the screens. Ultimately, users had wished that the notification had directed them to the report immediately.
The hierarchy of the “Incident Report” caused some confusion for actions that could be taken on the page. Overall most of the information on the report page was understood well but the “Report Fraudulent” and the “Unconfirmed” status left users confused. At the end-users wanted to feel empowered to help against ICE, but were left puzzled by our prototype flow.
In response to our testings, I revised our prototype to bring users immediately to the “Activity Report” after opening the notification. This page has also been revised in an effort to reduce confusion; the site name is now at the top followed by an interactive map, and the time of the report. For unverified reports, we now created a collapsible warning that cautions users of the report’s credibility. From here, users can then validate the report or mark it as fraud; choosing to validate triggers this pop-up, which leads them to a simplified edition of our “Next Steps” carousel.
We believe our redesigned UI makes it easier to navigate and report ICE activity throughout the app.
1. Expand the range of users for testing.
2. Consider a variety of prototyping methods.
3. Spend more time in formative research.
4. Develop the right tools for the current situation because people are already willing to do the right thing, especially when they have a clear direction.