Application DesignCase Study

Harris Symphony: Developing Safety and Life Saving Technology

By July 11, 2015 December 18th, 2017 No Comments

The redesign of a trusted & proven emergency dispatch system gave Harris a platform for market leadership.

For 80+ years, Harris has been a leader in solving tech challenges for industries like government, utilities, and transportation. One particular focus: public safety and specifically, emergency dispatchers — a group that needs to act quickly in relaying crucial and accurate information to first responders. They need extreme focus and a high level of coordination, and thus, they need high-performing equipment.

Harris commissioned us to research and explore the dispatcher experience with a goal of updating an industry-leading console and user interface that would make it easier for emergency dispatchers to do their job better.

The Process

Our Experience Design team began by conducting an extensive dispatcher shadow program, observing 30 U.S.-based dispatch managers involved with police, fire, EMS, and military personnel. Through their research, the team learned that a cleaner and more workflow-conscious workspace was a hot button issue as every new piece of tech dispatchers received was simply added onto existing setups without any reduction of previous tech.

We also learned that having all tools and features within immediate reach was important for dispatchers as it enabled them to multi-task. The ability to customize what was in front of them, and having the prioritization of emergencies directly in their line of dispatcher eyesight were also key features.

After we compiled our findings, PixelMEDIA and Harris worked together on developing, testing, improving, and re-testing prototypes in order to come up with a more streamlined solution that would enable dispatchers to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

The Results

In 2013, Harris Symphony was born, built on new hardware and consolidating multiple dispatch functions in a single user interface. Completely customizable, Symphony simulated familiar hardware controls and readouts, and presented 95% of its technology within 10% of a screen’s real estate. The updated features reduced the potential for error by minimizing the number of monitors, clicks, and keyboards required for dispatchers.

Other features included the ability to combine more than 1000 communication modules on one screen, support for up to eight speakers, 24-hour instant recall recorder, 16 user setups, and more.

Both teams felt Symphony was the most reliable, powerful, and flexible dispatch equipment ever created — an opinion that was soon validated as it was named the 2013 Hot Product by APCO International.

PixelMEDIA was given a task of redesigning a trusted and proven emergency dispatch system and evolving it into something even more high-performing than its predecessor. Success was achieved threefold: a happy client, a successful product launch, and a better way for the heroes of today to help keep people safe.