Hint is a software for controlling and monitoring rail traffic. It is designed to support the dispatcher in his great responsibility to ensure a smooth rail traffic.
The currently used system is based on the evolution of rail traffic and not on todays technological standarts. The biggest challenge was developing a holistic approach to control and monitor rail traffic in an easy way and to ensure security at once.
Working Environment "Betreibszentrale" Munich.
Dispatcher monitoring and operating with the currently used system.
How might we help expert users to document, communicate, control and monitor at the same time?
To ensure security and having an overview of all incidents, dispatchers are working with three different systems and up to ten monitors.
There was no need for the interface to be intuitive to use for first-timers – it’s meant for pro-users with lots of experience, who wish for overview and speed. At the same time, it is supposed to prevent human errors by providing smart suggestions and context-sensitive information. Because of this, we set on the following goal: The user is guided and supported but not constrained.
Design Principles that form the basis for redesigning the current used system
A Workflow Centered Software
Hint is designed to provide a holistic overview for dispatchers and to enable them to take action in a fast and secure way – it focuses strongly on support in extreme situations.
The system is designed in a way that the number of eight monitors could be reduced to a single
one. Less relevant information has become detached from the direct view of the user and is still part of the homogeneous Systems.
Controlled by computer mouse and keyboard, precise and safe input options are given.
Due to the simple construction, less installation and maintenance costs are incurred.
The system components are based on the requirements and conventions of the current system, but were replaced by a new design and a user-centered approach.
The information architecture and the hierarchical structure of the elements are based on user research.
Controlling and Monitoring
The system structure is based on taking action during stressfull situations in a fast and secure way. The new priorization of content and functions results in an overview item on top and a flexible and detailed view in the center.
In the case of incidents, indicators occur that enable the dispatcher to locate the problem and solve it quickly.
Dispatchers are unable to communicate quickly because telephone numbers and persons in charge were not associated with incidents.
The system is designed to provide context-sensitive information and enable the dispatcher to communicate effectively.
User Research and Testing
We were working closely together with "Deutsche Bahn" and the operation center "Betriebszentrale München", the workplace of dispatchers. Therefore, we had the great opportunity to observe how they work, what they say and do and how they interact with the system and their colleagues. Interviews with a variety of stakeholders, User Journeys and User Testings, have continuously helped us to align our vision with the needs of users throughout the process.
Gathering insights and structuring information
Ideation and testing the Minimal Viable Product with Paper Prototyping
Designing for expert users which are going to use an interface for eight to ten hours a day and which are used to the existing software requires great listening skills and lots of empathy to meet user needs. Keeping in mind to make users feel and act securely, brought us to a whole new level of designing systems.
I took responsibility on user research, which included interviews and observations as well as immersive research. During this project I was strongly involved in the process of designing the information structure and wireframes as well as bringing the prototype to live.