R&D and Prototype Development
UX Research & Product Development
Convoy is a proposed animal rescue technology service with the goal of reducing the rates of euthanasia and saving animals' lives. Designed to support the coordination and facilitation of transporting animals from high-risk, high-kill environments to no-kill facilities where they can be provided adequate time to be successfully adopted.
Contextual Inquiry: qualitative interviews, informal conversations.
Ethnography: field observations.
User Evaluation: rapid prototyping, user testing, System Usability Scale questionnaire, quantitative analysis.
Estimates vary, but at least 2 million animals are euthanized each year in the US because shelters simply run out of space before animals are successfully adopted. Sadly, there is often room to board animals at alternative shelters, but the planning and coordination to understand capacities, and organize and facilitate transportation is fragmented and inefficient. Software can help solve that.
Providing a technology service layer between these user groups could dramatically increase the number of animals transported and ultimately adopted, reducing overall euthanasia rates. Animal shelters typically have a maximum capacity along with likely euthanasia dates of boarded animals. Knowing each shelter’s location, capacity, and ‘high-risk’ animal numbers, Convoy would alert no-kill shelters within a specified radius that a number of animals were in danger of being euthanized soon. No-kill shelters with capacity would then agree to accept additional animals. Transport would then be requested to undertake the transportation between the shelters. Communication between all 3 parties would remain transparently and easily in-app without the need for phone calls, spreadsheets, and emails. Animals in grave danger of being euthanized could be provided a lifeline by these volunteer organizations who ultimately share the same goal. The time and effort reduced by technology of volunteers could be better spent saving animals’ lives.
There are three user groups for this system currently existing within the animal rescue space:
- Shelters designated as ‘high-kill’ because they are routinely over capacity and have to address the issue with euthanasia.
- Shelters that rarely reach capacity and are classified as ‘no-kill’.
- Volunteers and organizations who transport animals between shelters.
The introduction of an organizational technology can change work practices and power dynamics. It is, therefore, crucial to understand who does the work, who benefits from it, and what barriers can impact adoption. Utilizing both contextual inquiry and soft-systems modeling as requirements gathering methods, provides the view of the various organizations as the system, with people and technology as components of that system. A rich picture can help to better understand the tasks these organizations perform, as animals start their journey either from the street or being surrendering by their owner, through the various organizations dedicated to rescuing, transporting, and rehoming them, in an effort to ultimately save their lives and provide them with a loving, stable home.
Currently, organizations rescue animals from high-kill environments by a time-consuming and cumbersome process of calling shelters to find out if there are any animals in danger, reviewing websites of high-kill shelters for animals ready to be adopted, visiting facilities lacking online profiles, and calling known volunteers to transport animals from high-kill environments. There are some clear gaps that software can fill to make the process more efficient. Critical to the success of the system will be its ability to automate existing manual processes and to broaden community networks.