Crisis Clinic is at the heart of the Seattle-King County safety net providing a broad array of telephone based crisis intervention and information and referral services. For many people in emotional distress or needing community services assistance, they are their “first call for help.” For this project, our aim was to visualize the call data to find interesting trends, correlations and possible causation, so that the results could be harnessed to aid in better staff recruitment/ placement, efficient dispatch of health, and providing more compelling evidence for fund raising and its sustenance.

How it works

We got the call data from the Crisis Clinic (snapshot of their database ( 2009 SQL Server database)) which was pertaining to the King County area of WA, USA. This data was sanitized, and then imported in Tableau 8.1 for exploring it further, which unearthed other inconsistencies that we addressed next. After this phase, we created personas, scenarios and then did prototyping and user evaluations, all the while gradually developing the interactive visualization / dashboard in Tableau. Following this, we conducted usability studies with our target personas, and made further refinements to produce the final visualization.

Challenges we ran into:

As the data set was on the bigger side (1.5 M rows), there were latency problems as we were using virtual access initially to handle data. Once the data was stripped clean by the Crisis Clinic (HIPPA protection) and given to us, thing sped up considerably.

In addition to these, there were some consistency problems. Also, as we were dealing with visualizing on maps, the color density were initially not very indicative and there were a few other factors that surfaced eventually.

Aside from technical challenges, one major challenge we ran into was the change in our primary stakeholders. The dashboard that we were developing initially was for the Crisis clinic's internal use, but later our primary stakeholders became the management/ leadership and the fundraising committee.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

Our project had great utility for our stakeholders. During one of our usability tests, while exploring the data one of the Crisis Clinic staff members quoted:

"I'm having an emotional reaction... it really makes our work real and affirms what we do... I think a lot of the staff and volunteers would like to see this."

What's next for Crisis Clinic Project

One of the things that came up during our evaluations with Crisis Clinic staff was the idea that this would be an interesting addition to their website for anyone in the general public to explore. It would be a good way for them to look for patterns in their area of interest, or in general just explore what Crisis Clinic does. However, people that are unfamiliar with the call data may benefit from more guidance and a “walkthrough” of some key data points in the visualization. For this particular purpose, we believe it may be beneficial to incorporate a story format with the data to convey the information to the public. We also think that it would be beneficial to provide more context information such as a description of each of the programs does. Although we chose not to include this in the visualization because its primary users are familiar with the programs, we believe that contextual information could be provided by the website where it is embedded; ideally, this would be hosted by Crisis Clinic.

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