In this article, David Armstrong, a solutions manager for missionary applications, talks about the Digital Investigator Management project — a project that could have a major influence on in-field missionary work.
What’s the goal of the Digital Investigator Management project?
Participants on the Digital Investigator Management project will help design an application that in-field missionaries can use to capture and track information about their investigators in real-time on mobile devices during the day.
This application will alleviate the paperwork associated with recording both contact information and the teaching progress of investigators. That paperwork is often incomplete and out of date because taking notes during the day and then transferring them to the required forms in the evening tends to be inefficient.
A precursor to this project was an initiative in the Japan Tokyo mission to make more use of technology in missionary work. The Japan Digital Area Book (JDAB) was an application that was initially developed as a community project. This new project is taking some of the concepts that were learned in JDAB and expanding upon them.
Why are you involving the community in this project?
We have found creative power in the synergy of many minds working together. There are many people in the community who have recently served missions and can use their current experience to help us understand the problems that missionaries face.
Many members also have excellent experience in interaction design and can contribute to ideas about how to solve problems. Our internal design team will take input from the community to help create the best possible design solutions.
Are any missionaries currently using any similar digital solutions?
We currently have a desktop web-browser solution (called “Connect”) used by missionaries who have daily access to Internet-enabled computers in ward buildings, libraries, and Internet cafes. However, Connect grew up in a rather haphazard fashion and needs to be simpler and more intuitive.
Also, the number of missionaries who can potentially use the Connect Web application is limited. Most missionaries do not have regular access to full-size screens and computers.
Instead of solutions like Connect, we need to design a mobile application for missionaries to carry throughout the day and use for real-time data entry. The exact nature of this mobile device is still under discussion in the Missionary department. However, we want to begin discussing design concepts now to inform the eventual selection of a device.
What deadlines are you targeting to complete this project?
We will work on this project through 2011 and into 2012. We cannot, however, predict when a decision will be made about the mobile device authorized for missionaries nor when piloting of mobile devices will begin.
Despite these timeline uncertainties, it’s inevitable that the day will come when missionaries will need smart phones or tablet devices to give them access to applications and data while they are out and about teaching the gospel. We want to be ready to offer a solution when that day comes.
What kind of volunteers are you looking for?
We are primarily interested in volunteers who have expertise in interaction design, visual design, requirements analysis, and usability. We are looking for an emphasis on mobile app design, and especially mobile web browser solutions that can take advantage of HTML5 capabilities. We want to entertain as many ideas and suggestions as possible to fill the pool of creativity.
If you would like to get involved in the Digital Investigator Management project, sign in with your LDS Account in the sidebar, and then click Projects at the top. From the Projects subtab, scroll down and click Digital Investigator Management in the left column. Then click Join.