Linking Affected Communities to Mine Action in Ukraine – phase 1 of developing platforms

Access to timely and accurate information is often very limited in areas where mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) pose hazards to the local population. The HIF awarded the Danish Demining Group (DDG) a grant in 2013 to pilot a two-way communication web portal and parallel SMS service that will improve the information provision and exchange between the people living in the affected communities and the Mine Action (MA) actors assisting these communities.

Since last blog

In the last blog we shared key findings from the pilot project baseline assessments conducted jointly with the project partners CartONG and Social Impact Lab (SIMLab). This month we would like to share the first phases of the platforms development process with you. So in this blog we’ll be talking of personas, user stories and use cases. Sounds complicated? It really isn’t. Transformation from Personas to User Stories.

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DDG and SIMLab are about to start a workshop on user personas. Credit: SIMLab

Does  personas, user stories and use cases ring a bell to you?

A common strategy in the beginning of a development process for IT programmers and marketers is to identify key user groups. These key user groups are conceptualized as personas. The idea behind personas is that you start broadly by describing the interest, motivations and goals of each user group of your software. Then more detail is added as you develop these personas into user stories.

Based on findings from surveys conducted in eastern Ukraine throughout December 2014 – May 2015, DDG has identified six major user groups among beneficiaries: state emergency service, internally displaced people, returnees, residents, humanitarian workers and journalists. In addition to quantitative data, DDG conducted a series of meetings with representatives from each user group to learn how these people – the personas – are likely to use the pilot platforms. Consequently, six personas based on real people backgrounds, goals and motivations have been developed. These validated personas founded the basis for a workshop on user stories development with SIMLab.

The purpose of user stories is to analyse interests, motivations and goals in detail, so that web-developers can picture interactions between the users and the platforms. Such exercise also helps to decide what specific functions are required for the platforms.

During a recent user story workshop, DDG and SIMLab developed the needed user stories and started assembling high-level functionalities which the platforms need to have (blue post-ins on the photo below). The output from this work was about 50 user stories – simple descriptions of potential users’ features and functions in the system. All of them followed the same algorithm:

As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>

For example, a user story of a humanitarian worker who often comes across mines and ERWs reads: As a humanitarian worker, I want to register for receiving alerts from the web portal, so that I can be informed about safe behavior.  As the necessary functions to fulfill the users goals gets more and more detailed, the user stories will end up as what software developers call use cases.


Factors that will need to be incorporated into full tech spec. Credit: SIMLab

Next blog

In the next blog we will share the specific features and functionalities of the web- and mobile phone prototype platforms. We can’t wait to share even more about this exiting work.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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