In leading the app development phase, Transpire worked closely with DVRCV to produce an incredibly user friendly app which has been designed with the needs of women living with family violence front and centre.
– Liz Ratcliffe, Project Officer: Family Violence & Tech Safety, DVRCV
One in six Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence, and one in four Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner. With technology playing an increasingly integral role in today’s relationships and social interactions, the use of technology such as smartphones and social media platforms to perpetrate family violence is on the rise.
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) first developed a mobile application in 2015, designed primarily as an evidence collection tool to help women interacting with legal services and police. Since its implementation, DVRCV learnt that while some women wanted an app to collect evidence, many others just wanted somewhere they could collate information about their experiences as a ‘sense check’ or confirmation of what had happened.
As such, DVRCV planned to create a new mobile application that could enable women to do both of those things, and much more.
Transpire were successful in their bid to design and develop the new mobile application ‘Arc’, which would serve as a platform to identify, document and record patterns of intimate partner behaviour that makes women feel scared, unsafe, or intimidated.
Due to the nature of the subject matter along with a tight timeframe and technical limitations, Transpire adopted a more direct delivery approach to best serve DVRCV’s requirements.
Solution – Design
The project kicked off with Transpire creating designs for each screen of the mobile app. DVRCV had recently undertaken a rebranding exercise, giving our design team a suite of resources to work from. Special care was taken to ensure that DVRCV’s choice of colours met accessibility requirements, thus achieving its aim of making Arc visible and available to as many women as possible.
During this phase of the project, Transpire’s design team worked from the DVRCV office for closer collaboration and better communication between all stakeholders. As a result, DVRCV was able to take an active role in the project, which included testing with victim survivors, practitioners, and key stakeholders.
One of DVRCV’s key objectives was to make Arc an easy-to-use experience with no barriers to participation. With this in mind, Transpire had to carefully consider where certain actions within the app should be located and which features should take priority – subject matter, ability to upload photos or videos etc.
When creating an entry, not all fields are mandatory. This allows the user to populate the form with as much or as little information as they feel comfortable. Users are also able to partially complete an entry and revisit at a more suitable time to add more detail.
Another piece of functionality that took precedence was the ability to use the app offline for people in regional areas with no internet connection or a weak mobile signal. Only a few non-essential screens are unavailable in offline mode.
The sleek and simple user interface doesn’t require much digital proficiency or technical knowhow either. Removing barriers for people when English isn’t their first language was also important, which meant employing simple and concise copy.
Solution – Development
With no usability issues detected, the project moved into the development phase. In order to ensure consistency across both iOS and Android versions, our engineering team had to update and pivot on certain designs, which was made easier by Transpire’s close working relationship with DVRCV.
Restrictions were placed on the number of attachments per entry for a couple of reasons; to ensure Arc worked cross-platform, which wouldn’t have been as seamless with multiple file formats and types of media, and to save on server and storage costs.
When it came to protecting user data and information, Transpire performed a security audit to identify and recommend the most suitable solution. Amazon Web Services’ cloud infrastructure in Australia was chosen, as data is encrypted at 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256) – among the most secure methods of encryption available.
Now available on both iOS and Android, Arc gives women ownership over the way in which their story is expressed and recorded – relaying this information verbally to a third-party can be difficult and demanding, .
For some women, Arc may represent an online diary or reflection tool, or it may help them identify patterns of abusive behaviour, or have conversations around the violence they’re experiencing. It might help others achieve a specific outcome such as accessing support services, or support access to the justice system by telling their story to the police or legal professionals.
Just one month after release, Arc had a 5 star rating on the App Store.
One in Six
Arc helps the one in six women who experience family violence in Australia.
AES-256 and 14 rounds of data transformation make Arc incredibly secure.
Arc isn’t designed to replace existing support services that are critical to women safely leaving a relationship or safely challenging their partner’s behaviour. It is one of many tools that can help women experiencing family violence take control over the situation and the decisions they make now, and in the future.
– Emily Maguire, CEO, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria