Listening to Our Community

Revelry is a design and development firm based in New Orleans committed to building things that matter. 

When we were asked by the state, “How can we help build a contact tracing app to help flatten the curve here in Louisiana?”, we jumped at the chance.


Now before we commit pen to paper, pixels to screens, our work, which occurs in the Open Source, always begins with a design challenge question. 

“How might we [the challenge] for [audience group] so that they can [take action that solves for the problem]?”

github issue in revelry foundation repo

This question gives us a framework from which our multidisciplinary team can build. It draws the contours of the problem space and helps generate empathy for the people that are impacted by the problem. 

This process also humbles us as a team consistently. It’s a feedback loop that reminds us to solve for the audience while simultaneously divorcing us from any ego led initiatives and or confirmation bias.

Our Design Challenge Question 

How might we identify and enable, through the direction of public health officials, trusted contact tracers within the community to securely and anonymously identify those with COVID-19, with their findings reported back to the state call center(s)?

Discovery Research

Our design challenge prompts us to investigate the problem that we’re looking to solve for as part of a more considerable world-wide Open Source effort. As a team we soon found out, pulling on the thread of contact tracing means discovering the cultural nuances and the community context.

Listening to our Community

We spoke to, over the course of a week, a cross-section of individuals from throughout the country, state, and local levels that represent our communities. In detail we talked to;

Our Initial Findings

What we heard challenged our assumptions and humbled our perspective—further guiding and focusing our design efforts. 

1. Tech is Not THE Solution

We need more than a tech solution for contact tracing; it requires us to think about this as a program including relationship building through a mix of analog and tech approaches. 

“There’s other realities that come into play. There’s this assumption that everyone has a phone because that’s how everyone communicates. But what kind of phones do people have, right? Not everybody has the Android, not everybody has the iPhone, you always have to consider that. Then there’s also this realization that like people can’t pay their phone bill. They often will switch phones with people, they often will say “I’m going to get a Metro PCs this week, can’t pay it this week, phone is off, have to get a new phone number” because after a month you get a new phone number. There’s all these dynamics that happen that make them downloading any app way low priority.”

Nia Weeks

2. Empower our Audience

We need a program that involves and empowers both public health officials and local community leaders. 

3. Awareness, Adoption, and Support is Needed

We need an Open Source program includes but is not limited to;

  • Flexible Messaging; Empower our audience to create culturally relevant public awareness messaging that connects with communities across our state.
  • High-volume distribution plan; Work with and empower a network of community leaders and state and local public health officials.
  • Social media sharing; Look at inventive ways to increase adoption of declaring one’s status and taking precautionary measures to help flatten the curve.
  • Privacy; Make sure everyone can share their status safely, securely, and completely anonymously. 
  • Support network; Ability to tap into a trusted health network and relevant information.
  • Flexible Updates; New details on COVID-19 are coming in quickly, so we need to allow any tech solution to be easily updated.

“Simple data visualizations are needed to provide context and address cultural nuance… What does 6’ look like?— people don’t know. If you go to a small event, go to the beach, go for a run—helping people put visuals to these basic numbers is important. It’s really going to be more important as we go into the summer—it’s hot, and people are going to want to go out.”

Dr. Jennifer Galvin

Turning Observations into a Problem Statement

We have observed that the need for and the use of contact tracing efforts aren’t being effectively communicated and delivered against for the most at-risk communities within Louisiana. 

This problem is reducing our state’s goal to contain the spread and transmission of COVID-19 by half. So how might we, working with public health officials at the state and local level and community leaders with “boots on the ground”; 

  • Increase awareness for the need for tracing within at-risk communities
  • Improve tracing through the creation of a tool that both educates and empowers trusted tracers 
  • Create a tool that allows tracers to privately and securely to go into their communities and capture the status of individuals who are at risk 

…so that we can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by half.

Turning our Problem Statement into a Broad Hypothesis

We all remember third-grade science. You know, where we observed the natural world, cataloged our findings, and made an educated guess? Our approach in creating broad hypotheses from which our teams can brainstorm against in a “Design Studio” is no different. 

Our Broad Hypotheses

  • We believe that; Creating an intake form that identifies an individual’s risk factors and gives them resources
  • For; Community leaders within communities across Louisiana
  • Will result in; Increased in awareness and adoption of tracing efforts
  • We’ll know we’re right when we see; A 60%+ *use of our tracing tool. *We define “use” as individual use of the intake tool and sharing one’s status

Decide—Design Studio

Leveraging our research efforts, we can guide our multidisciplinary team in collaborative ideation/sketching sessions, called a Design Studio. The purpose of Design Studios is to uncover ideas that will solve for our problem statement and narrow our broad hypotheses into actionable hypotheses/prototypes. 

Mural board from design studio

Design Studio Results

The team shared their ideas that solve for the problem statement and broad hypotheses, voted upon the best solution out of 50 plus ideas. We narrowed them down into 6 prioritized prototypes/individual hypotheses from which to work from, and test with our audience. 

  1. Prototype 1; We will create a Web App, that will include a… 
    1. Risk Assessment; web app tool questionnaire you can (determine your risk factors and actions you should take)
    2. Symptom Tracker; Day-by-day symptoms diary tool—triggers, depending on your input, to get advice from a call center, alerts and links to relevant health info, etc.
    3. Preventive measures; Collection of fun, informative and shareable tools such as “Serious Do’s, funny Don’ts—do wash your hands, Don’t put your hand in alligator mouth” and “Bingo card to stamp what you’ve done—filled out with top preventive  measures
  1. Prototype 2; We will create a reward for those who share their status in our app, by giving them a “I shared my status” sticker and or editable social avatar
  2. Prototype 3; We will create a referral program for those who “I’ve shared my status” in the app, by giving them an incentive to refer the app to others with a prompt to have their friends share their status
  3. Prototype 4; We will distribute our offline printed materials to be handed off to community leaders as part of food drives, medical checks, etc.
  4. Prototype 5; We will give a smartphone, with unlimited minutes to community leaders, preloaded with our web app
  5. Prototype 6; We will drive awareness of our web appl by creating a bilingual downloadable Open Source “We Will <fill in the blank cultural activity> Again.” social video and print campaign, that can be turned into a meme and shared out to social media easily.

The Latest

This week we’re building out the prototype for our first hypothesis, the Risk Assessment tool, working in close partnership with Veena Goud Billioux, Assistant Professor at Louisiana State Health Sciences Center.

Risk Assessment in Typeform

Getting out a light minimal viable product for folks to begin using and sharing feedback.

See the risk assessment tool.


Risk Assessment in Click-Thru Prototype

This is early days but you can begin to see where we’re headed.

Early Sketches

Early Design Screens

risk assessment app mockup designs

Open Source for Good

We see ourselves as just one of many, contributing to a larger local, state, national and worldwide effort to flatten the curve. That’s why all our work is built in the Open Source, so please build upon what we’ve done to date, share your ideas working alone but together.

One More Thing

Part of listening and working in the Open Source means discovering new opportunities to innovate and make things that matter. Which is why we’re excited to announce some of the work we’ve begun as part of our conversations with Dr. Danielle Thomas, who is a Sociology Professor and is a part of the Gardere Initiative.

“I’m excited that Revelry Labs is partnering with Dr. Thomas and The Gardere Initiative this summer, for their youth summer program. This partnership is important because I strongly believe in empowering our communities in ways that we’re able to and for us at Revelry, is devoting time to teach these youths how to code. I’m super excited and I’m looking forward to the bright minds that will come out of this partnership.”

Dr. Danielle Thomas
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