The BRIDGE project aims at increasing the efficiency of multinational crisis response by the enhancement of new technology processes and organization. This means an optimization of the technology with which people can, want, or need to work, rather than forcing the users to change the way they work due to the behaviour of a software system. Thus, the integration and participation of end-users plays a key role in the development of safety-critical systems in the domain of emergency response and security. Therefore, BRIDGE aims to integrate, motivate and activate different relevant stakeholder end-user groups (e.g., employees, partners, customers, citizens, end-users) to establish a strong, continuous and extensive user-centred design approach in BRIDGE.
The concept of end-user involvement has several dimensions which have to be considered as complementary contributions. BRIDGE builds on the implementation of Participatory Design and an End-User Advisory Board as methodological incentives amplifying the intrinsic motivation of the end-users to participate in the BRIDGE project. These two approaches involve the end-users in a process in which their needs, desires, and limitations are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. Both approaches mainly differ in the hierarchy-level the end-users hold in their respective agency, i.e., practitioners or decision-makers.
End-User Advisory Board
In order to guarantee active end-user involvement during the whole project, BRIDGE established an advisory board, which consists of an independent group of experts and decision-makers representing national and regional end-user organizations in different areas within emergency management, as well as the industrial sector. This expert-level group forms a steering committee for the project and reflects the BRIDGE objectives and achievements from the customer point of view.
The task of the End-User Advisory Board is to ensure that the project remains aligned with end-user needs and technology trends during the course of its execution and that the project results remain beyond state-of-the-art. The Board also supports and facilitates the organizational top-down perspective on the whole complex of the addressed domain. Furthermore, it provides important organizational high-level requirements that are collected and refined in the iterative research and development process.
The End-User Advisory Board convenes every six months.
Participatory Design Methodology
Complementary to the End-User Advisory Board, the Participatory Design Methodology provides a bottom-up perspective and practitioner‘s view to the BRIDGE project. This approach addresses the working-level group of end-users and comprises specialists dealing with operational issues of crisis management. A set of ethnographic studies and participatory-design sessions will lead to highly relevant and qualified requirements, and also contribute in the validation and testing phases through training- and simulation sessions. Thus, with the implementation of a participatory design approach the interaction-design activities also deliver important contributions to the domain analysis and vice-versa.
The main goals of participatory design are the observation of the end-users in their actual working environment, the analysis of their work and their social context, and the determination of their practices and needs. Participatory design fosters creativity and critique of the different targeted end-user groups in the project and serves as a way of creating environments that are more responsive and appropriate to their inhabitants‘ and users‘ cultural, emotional, spiritual and practical needs. In participatory design participants (putative, potential or future) are invited to cooperate with designers, researchers and developers during an innovation process.