Tonight I largely wrapped up my final gSchool individual project. My mother had some really great ideas for tools to allow 911 dispatch centers to take and manage text messages, which right now is only available in around ten cities nationwide. I decided to use this as my final project and create a prototype. It was a lot of fun and very motivating to have a real-life product owner, and someone who has put a lot of thought into it. She had great ideas and was able to articulate them clearly. When I asked her for user stories, instead of the usual (and SO dry) "when a user sends a message, then blah, blah, blah..." she drew the story. I come from visual people, ya'll. I wish all user stories came in the form of storyboards.
There is so much more I want to do with this app, one week just wasn't enough time to get through it all. At one point I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole with my ideas, trying to suppress them as they constantly cropped up. Although gSchool's demo is tomorrow, my *real* demo is next week in Bellingham. I'm going to present this prototype to the Bellingham Fire Department, where my mother is Communications Operations Officer. Something I really want to include before the demo is the ability for citizens to send photos and videos. The Twilio API doesn't allow MMS, so I'm going to have to rip that out and use another service. If I don't get a new service integrated (I will be on vacation, after all) I'm hoping to at least throw some in the seed data so people can see what it would look like. I think that would really take this app up a notch and would be a lot more impressive than the current beta.
Other future features I envision: keyword statistics/data visualization, mapping messages, attaching messages to incidents, and creating incident-specific dashboards. Imagine firefighters are responding to an incident and can pull up all the messages associated with that one call en route. If people have sent photos, they could get a better sense of the scene, location details, types of injuries, &c. There are just so many possibilities, which is why I enjoyed working on this so much. To be able to demo it for a team that will use something like it in the future is pretty cool too.
Update July 18: What the dashboard looks like with photo messages