"Almost Dead on Arrival: a Tale of Police, Danger, and UX Development" by Aaron Marcus

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How We Got Started: It is not often that the lawyer for a prospective client, that is heavily armed, calls us in for a new project. Starting off with lawyers and police, we were already on alert. Still, we anticipated that this job would be different, challenging, and perhaps dangerous. It happened about five years ago.

The lawyer (for the policemen’s union) explained that the police department of a major Silicon Valley city was rolling out a new mobile information display system, but they were running into problems. The police officers who had to try the new system found it problematic, sometimes refusing to even use it, because they said it might endanger their lives. What a customer or user reaction! As we learned more and more about the context, the application suite, the software developer, the threads of politics, software development and organizational behavior became more and more intertwined. We felt like we were detectives ourselves, trying to understand how things had come to this situation; that the police officer’s union (which hired us) was about to sue the software developer, the police management, and the city for creating a fiasco. The newspapers were also beginning to sniff around. ...

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