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CSIRO

Code for Australia delivers a user-friendly air quality visualisation tool

prototype
Environment
Advisory Service

Partner

Background

CSIRO, the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, and the University of Tasmania engaged Code for Australia to develop features for their air quality visualisation tool (AQVx). AQVx is an interactive web-based smoke visualisation tool that is user-friendly and designed to support fire practitioners and the community in planning and evaluating forecasts.

Team
Tim Kallady
Technology Advisor
Victor Nava
Development Advisor
Ben Baudat
User Experience Advisor
Jaye Clissold
Development Advisor
Blaise Palmer
Delivery Manager
Matt Sawkill
Product Owner
BACKGROUND

Code for Australia worked with our partners to design and develop a new iteration of AQVx. The goal was to make it more technically sustainable and user-friendly. We employed human-centred design practices to ensure all decisions about the tool were user-led. AQVx was scoped through a research and development fund to help various end users, including government, community, and non-government responders, visualise and track the impact of smoke from bushfires and support prescribed burn programs.

When Code for Australia was brought into the project, AQVx was already an existing tool; however, it was developed on a geographic information system platform and was not intuitive for users.

WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE BIG DATA USER-FRIENDLY

Code for Australia was a good partner for this project thanks to our product management, user research, design, and development expertise. Our team worked with all the stakeholders and users through a discovery phase to understand what had already been developed and how end users could get the best outcome from the product. AQVx is used by staff at government agencies responsible for environmental management, air quality and public health. Therefore, several stakeholders and end users are involved in the project, all with distinct priorities.

AQVx integrates several data sources, such as modelled data from a joint Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO project (AQFx) and international smoke forecasting systems with a wide range of observational data to provide the best possible information about current and forecast smoke movement.

Code for Australia undertook a discovery phase, developed a product strategy and prioritised a list of features. This ensured users had a say in the tool's usability and the features that would be most important to them and their work. Here's an outline of each stage:

  • A Discovery report.

This report documents the feedback of user research, explains the different tools used alongside AQVx, and highlights pain points for current users. From the research, Code for Australia was able to document the requirements AQVx would need to become a nationwide operational tool.

  • Product strategy

The product strategy documents the long-term planning for the product, including the vision for the product: a powerful but simple interface that is a one-stop shop for government agencies to visualise (in near real-time) the current, past and forecast state of air pollution across Australia. This document also features the objectives, a development timeline and a decision-making framework.

  • Prioritised list of features

Code for Australia developed a new version of AQVx, incorporating the features identified through user research so we know we have developed the most important features first.

Our ongoing support includes bug fixes and proactive maintenance, setting up platforms for user feedback and system status and monitoring multiple incoming data sources.

Importantly, Code for Australia has established structures to support the project team in working collaboratively to implement strategy and product management practices. These structures are supported by a framework for decision-making informed by feedback from stakeholders and end users.

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

Our work has led to a better understanding of end users and product strategy. We have delivered a continuous release of new features based on the prioritised list developed for the product. This includes

  • A more flexible user interface that makes it easy to browse or search for geospatial data layers
  • An integrated guided tour function, providing onboarding within the application to replace a standalone “help” website
  • User authentication to support individual data storage and export
  • A “bookmark” function that allows users to take a snapshot of geospatial data around a point of interest at a particular time, supporting decision-making workflow
  • Exposing AQVx’s underlying data and geospatial information as an API for standalone analysis and integration with other government data platforms

THE FUTURE OF AQVx

The product strategy developed will ensure that the platform continues to meet user needs and strategic objectives. Code for Australia worked with the multidisciplinary project team to provide the capability to work collaboratively and transparently with a robust and strategic approach to product development.

AQVx is currently being fully operationally tested by a wide range of users and receiving great feedback. Code for Australia will be the ongoing delivery partner for AQVx as the project is adopted for operational use by government agencies across Australia.

Do you have data sources that need to be accessed by a range of users? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you.

Watch the AQVx demo video here.

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We're based in Melbourne, on the traditional lands of the Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging across Australia.

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