Nigel’s Ride Along

February 25, 2010
By Nigel_Snoad

I had a pretty fun evening on Sunday with Tareek (and yes Arabic speakers, that’s how he spells it). We had two fires and a trip to Newark airport. As you might imagine Sunday night shifts aren’t exactly fully populated, so most of the evening it was just Tareek and I in the Van.

It was interesting to talk to Tareek (who’s a full time employee) about his experiences, and how he goes about doing things. He’s young, but probably on his way to being one of the “middle management” that Scott talks about.

I won’t bother repeating too many similar things, but a few things popped out to me

1. The Red Cross response teams have a really good relationship with the Fire Department. The Chief at the scene of a fire in an apartment (6th floor of a walkup) in Williamsburg was great.

2. Knocking on the doors and looking at water damage over all 6 floors gave a fascinating slice of NY life: there were funky hipsters, people living on their own in renovated apartments while one floor up 6 people from an immigrant family seemed to be crammed in, while in another apartment we couldn’t really move because of all the junk/newspapers/old TV’s. Everybody welcomed the Red Cross (the jackets looked suitably official), but no-one affected really knew what to expect of us. This makes me think that there’s a couple of issues

a) as has been mentioned there’s a pre-existing¬†advocacy and information issue, but I also think there’s

b) in-person opportunity to inform everyone we met about the Red Cross, the services on offer, and, perhaps most importantly, how they can prepare themselves. Most of the people we talked to were in the “near miss” category – and thus unusually sensitive to making changes or getting prepared. Perhaps some kind of pamphlet?

3. Lots of interesting thoughts about things that have been mentioned, such as the door stickers, van cargo space, and the Siebold case management system.

On that last issue – I should point out that Siebold is NOT FREE OR OPEN SOURCE. It’s Oracle’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and basically acts like a toolkit. In this case they didn’t spend enough time/money on checking the workflow and testing it. And that’s separate from the UX issues and some of the annoying/stupid bugs we all experienced. I think there’s a couple of interesting design points about this as a tool: like most systems they’re built assuming an idealized workflow, but in reality you end up adding information in bits and pieces, so the workflow is really non-linear.

More from me soon.

One Response to “ Nigel’s Ride Along ”

  1. George_Bixby on February 26, 2010 at 2:00 am

    I think the issue of the Red Cross not effectively communicating their role may have to do with their super strict guidelines to the universality of their branding. Possibly they have avoided campaigns that communicate what they do, because in each community is end up being very different and they want to avoid putting out non-uniform campaigns that can potential cloud what they do. It would be interesting to imagine how using their core principles as the groundwork for a campaign, that may include communication graphics, verbal introductions etc. could effectively communicate their role while allowing for some level of standardization.