The Forensic team for Traffic Accidents of the Dutch National Police aims to uncover the truth about accidents through different lines of investigation. From January to June 2020, we collaborated with the team to see how a digital tool could help them in their investigative process.
How can we streamline the investigative process of the Forensic Research team of Traffic Offenses in terms of decision making, communication and collaboration?
We gained an understanding of our users through desk research, on-site observations and user interviews.
We discovered that the investigative process can be seen as outdated. As most of the work is done on paper, investigators spend about 90% of their working time on administrative tasks. Without a central communication platform, they struggle to actively communicate and collaborate in their work. Investigations aren't as streamlined as they could be, due to a lack of innovation.
To learn about the process in more detail, we organised a 'Process Origami' workshop, a self-made research method based on the Business Origami. In this, we let investigators map out their investigation based on a timeline and map to find all steps of the process and see how stakeholders were connected in this.
By asking questions such as "Can you elaborate?" and "Why is that?", we were able to gain a deeper understanding of the situation and gather detailed insights.
Based on all the research we created several concepts to explore through a design sprint. By combining three concepts, we created a knowledge management system supporting the process from the moment an accident happens to the final case file delivery.
In the concepting phase, I was mainly responsible for the initial mapping by first responders and digitising the checklist for first-line investigators on the street.
First responders can give a description of the accident or call the forensic team immediately
Miscommunication is avoided by asking for visual documentation of the accident
The first responder shares information on victim vehicles, injuries and other factors
In the first phase of our concept (and the investigation), street officers go to the accident to give a description of the situation. Investigators decide whether research is needed based on this.
First, first responders would give a verbal description of the incident, but this caused a 'Chinese Whispers' problem as officers would create their own image of the situation. To solve this, we replaced this step with a mobile interface in the existing Police app. In this, first responders share photos and answer a series of pre-set questions to clearly describe the accident.
As first-line investigators mark found evidence, they can immediately upload visual documentation from their device
As first-line investigators arrive at the scene of the incident, they have to document their findings. First, they used a paper checklist for this, but this asked for a lot more time spent on administration, as found evidence, notes and photos had to be collected digitally later.
We replaced this with a checklist on tablet, in which investigators can check which evidence they've found and immediately add visual documentation to it.
First-line investigators drag elements onto the map to create a visual overview of the accident
To create a visual overview of the accident as it was discovered, first-line investigators would create a situational sketch on the back of their paper checklist.
We also moved this step to tablet. As investigators wrap up the checklist, they can create the overview in a new interface in which they can drag elements like vehicles and traffic lights on the map and add some initial information. The result of this forms a visual basis for the rest of the investigation.
Second-line investigators fill all the gaps in knowledge through their desktop dashboard
Back at the office, investigators can now find all the collected information in a desktop dashboard, in which data points become dynamic. Through progress indicators, investigators can see what data is collected and where research still has to be done. A simulation of the accident can be played as more time-based data is collected.
Through the dashboard we aim to bring investigators together in one interface, to stimulate collaboration in their work.
testing on site
testing the digital checklist
A highlight of this project was having the chance to test in context. We joined first-line investigators to the scene of an accident to see how introducing a tablet would work on site.
The test mainly helped us in tweaks in accessibility. As investigators struggled to distinguish light blue colors and some selected elements, we had to make changes in our color palette. Working outside, we had to ensure working on a screen was comfortable. A dark mode was added to our designs to ensure the device could be used at any point of the day.
This project was part of the Master Digital Design (2020) of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with the Dutch National Police.