Background

Urban/Rural area survey is an important part in the development of any economy. It is imperative that a base map for any urban body should be timely updated to help in planning and implementing the schemes such as waters supply, sanitation etc. At the same time the information on properties and hoardings in the concerned area are going to help in generating revenue. India is one of the biggest economies in the world. With the huge population, it is difficult to gather the information about all the areas, its people, and their properties. It’s a tedious and complicated process. Ananth Technologies is an expert in providing GIS base map for the Urban bodies. Their GIS (Geographical Information Systems) department works towards — getting basic data from the satellite along with actual data from the ground; correcting and merging them; submitting them to the government.


Current process

Before developing the new process, everything was manual and on paper. Technology was leveraged in very few places in the entire process. Below are the high-level steps GIS team has been following for a while:

  • 1. Collect the High-resolution satellite image/data of the selected urban area from the third party (PMU) and conducte Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) survey for geometric and radiometric corrections to create a base map.

  • 2. Collect maps and data from government and local agency. Incorporate cadastral and utility information like outlines of all the bodies (house, roads, tanks, water bodies etc.) and annotate them using ArcGIS Software.

  • 3. Send the team to on-site with the survey forms for collecting information about the area. It includes going to each house, asking information like owner name, plot area, number of floors etc…

  • 4. Send collected data to Ananth Office through courier for further processing.

  • 5. Use ArcGIS to correct, merge, and delete data to process the gathered/collected data.

  • 6. Send final data to the client for the verification. After verification, sign off process starts which includes sending all the document’s hard copy and soft copy to the client.

Problems

The key issue with old process is the time spent to complete the entire project. There are many steps in the process where if proper digitalization were present, significant time and money would have been saved. Like:

  • ●   Collection of data on the ground — Everything is on a paper form which takes more time to fill than a digital form. Also there is a high chance of losing the papers during transportation.

  • ●   Sending data to the Ananth office for further processing takes more time to reach when survey area is far.

  • ●   Millions of data have to be added in an excel sheet for further processing. It take days to complete

  • ●   Losing data during the project timeline delays the project completion.

The Challenge

Develop an application which works on both mobile and tablet to reduce the time and improve the efficiency involved in all the processes during the entire lifecycle of the project by using technology and better user experience.


Discussions

Before the project started I wanted to know everything about the current process, problems with them and scope of improvement. For almost a week, my team and I discussed with the GIS team about the project. To understand the problem deeply, I interviewed many team members who were involved in different processes. Once we all had sufficient knowledge on the project we started discussing the solutions that can be used to improve the processes.


Approach (Design process)

I used user-centered design process in the entire project lifecycle.

User research (User Story, Persona)

The first step in the process is to learn about your audience. As we were building a product for the internal team, I started taking interviews of all the stakeholders to know about the business requirement and goals. Then I started taking interview of the people who were actually going to use the product. I asked them all kind of questions like:

  • ●   What their life in a day looks like?

  • ●   What problems they face in the current process?

  • ●   What are their pain points?

  • ●   What are the improvements in the current process they want?

  • ●   What functionalities they want to see in the new system?

I used the above findings to create a generalized persona which helped the team to focus on the user’s need during the entire project lifecycle. As the product was going to be used by two different people with two different skills, I created two personas — one for the supervisor who are going to manage the entire project and other — the data executive who is going to visit on-sites to collect data.

Supervisor

Data Executive



User Stories

After defining the audience I started writing user stories which will be used to develop functionalities. Some of the stories are below:

  • ●   Balakrishna should be able to create, assign and delete projects.

  • ●   He should be able to see the progress of the project through a dashboard.

  • ●   Ramesh should be able to login and see his task assigned by the supervisor for that day.

  • ●   He should be able to enter the information collected at the ground and sync it to the database.

  • ●   He should be able to split or delete any task based on the requirement.

  • ●   He should be able to take pictures of the property.

  • ●   He should be able to Mark tasks complete and see them in the complete tab.

With each story in mind, I started conducting Design studios with the team. I asked everyone to draw designs appropriate for the functionality we were trying to build.


Designs (Wireframes)

These are the designs developed in photoshop after many iterations, testings, and interviews with the stakeholders and team.



User Testing

After completion of the initial designs, I started user testing. I asked all the team members, stakeholder (Tester) and supervisor (Tester), and data executive (Tester) to come under one roof and start testing the design right away. It began with distributing printed copies of all the designs to all the members and asking them to write down their comments/feedback. Once feedback process completed, we picked each comment and asked everyone’s opinion on it. With this process, we keep on filtering out things we can remove, add and improve in the further iterations. This is one of the most important steps in the entire design process. Once it is completed and new designs were ready, incorporating all the suggestions given by the team members, they went for development.

My job did not end here. I participated in all the development meetings to make sure that everyone is on the right path and focused on the user for whom we are building this product. In addition to this, I provided all the visual elements like graphics, images, icons to the team and reviewed the entire design once it was complete to make sure it complies with the standards.


Tools/Technologies

After defining the audience I started writing user stories which will be used to develop functionalities. Some of the stories are below:

  • ●   Tools used for the project:
    Whiteboard, Pen/Paper, Photoshop for wireframing, Illustrator for graphic designs, Marvel for dynamic prototyping, Lucidchart for user flows, Google drive for storage, Android/iOS mobile and Tablet for testing.

  • ●   Technologies used:
    React, Expo, Smartsheet, Firebase


Prototype link

Click Here for application video


Take away

Overall, this project was a success. We were able to reduce the completion time by 30% and save a lot of money.
Personally, I learned a lot while working on this project which includes GIS domain knowledge, technologies like expo, firebase, and smartsheet and most importantly how to work and collaborate with the cross functional team inside a company.

CONTACT ME

PHONE

+91-96424-57572

EMAIL

iamravisurana@gmail.com

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