Reforming HCD in Relation to Challenges of Contact Tracing Technologies

During the previous sessions, our discussions opened up topics about reflections and critics on Human-centered Design (HCD) as a dominant tool on today’s design scene. However, its deficiencies start to reveal in dealing with the crisis context. How HCD can evolve to address complex issues in today’s crisis? What can HCD learn from other approaches? Our team (Kiko and Divya), share similar interests on transforming HCD approach in crisis context, and we will address this issue in relation to dealing with challenges of contact tracing technologies, which we had our reflections on earlier in the course.

We started with examining the shortcomings of HCD when dealing with crisis context, which includes ‘no systematic inclusion of equality or justice’, ‘focus on short-term applications’, and ‘focus on the target user neglecting the bigger ecosystem’.  Then we draw on inspirations from lectures and literatures about the ‘Humanity-centered design approach’, ‘Trust-driven design’ and ‘Responsible design’, to see how these alternatives could contribute to transforming the traditional HCD in relation to crisis management.

To address the complex and interconnected problems from the contact tracing technologies emerged largely in COVID-19, we employed Nitin and Anh-Ton’s ‘Framework of ecologies that influence contestations in Participatory Design’ as a methodology to map out the overall ecology of this crisis domain.

After analysing the overall ecology of our crisis domain (i.e. challenges brought by contact tracing technologies) on our Miro board, we started mapping the key stakeholders of contact tracing application. We categorized them based on three groups such as individuals, their social circles, and authorities. Then the primary stakeholders for each group are identified and mapped out.

The challenges of the contact tracing technologies were identified simultaneously when we were analysing the ecology of the crisis domain. For a sensitive domain like this, it is vital to actively monitor the misuse of gathered data. Because mishandling of data leads to a direct stake on users’ trust. Furthermore, measuring the afterlife of contact tracing technology comes as the next challenging factor. This is because finding the stage when to stop maintenance and to end the lifecycle of the system is often blurry. Moreover, transparency in the data collected, explainability of the result are some factors that heavily impact the quality of the contact tracing system. 

The opportunities that we foresee in contact tracing technologies is allowing the users to self-import their data. Though it might pose accuracy and authenticity related challenges, users are usually aware of what data they are sharing with the system which could be a potential way to earn users’ trust. The potential initial actions when designing CT systems are enumerated in our Miro board. The emerging outcomes of the contact tracing (CT) system are listed in figure below. 

Kindly refer to our Miro board to get an overview of our concept
‘Reforming HCD in relation to contact tracing (CT) technologies’.

By Kiko and Divya


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