project case study

Geofence

Alert system utilising virtual fence to trigger alerts when vehicles enter or exit these fence.

Complying with non-disclousure agreements, information presented in this case study is limited.
A screenshot of web page

Problem Overview

A lot of truck owners and fleet operators were concerned with significant losses due to route diversions and detours - sometimes because of genuine reasons like road accidents causing diversions and sometimes for reasons not so genuine. In some countries, there were many stolen truck cases reported.

Fleet operators were in no position to be tracking these trucks all the time and so were constantly requesting for an alert system which would bring route deviations to their attention immediately.


As a solution for this, a geofence - virtual fence around a specific area, building or a specific route with an alert system triggering alerts while a vehicle moves in or out of these fences was the need of the hour.

My Role

I was the only designer on the floor responsible for each and every aspect of experience design for this product. This was mainly a challenge for me as it was my first experience of being an individual designer taking up all the tasks.

Designing the geofence feature from the ground up sounded exciting but also brought the challenge to address a global user base. This was again a first of its kind experience for me.

I worked along with the business analysts who brought in thier wealth of user insights, a team of 4 engineers led by a senior architect.  Interacted with the product & project managers on daily basis for all updates and status of progress.

I carried out the comeplete end-to-end experience design for the feauture including user research and analysis, concepting and designing wireframe of various fidelity, pitching it to the wider audience for approvals and finally the visual designs and handover to the engineering, providing any design support as and when needed until final launch.

Process

User centric design

The process was kept simple and followed the user-centric design principles.

Reasearch

Geofence is nothing but a perimeter that is marked around a location and whenever a vehicle assigned to that geofence enters or exits this perimeter will trigger an alert.

Geofence has been widely used for many purposes. When a location enabled mobile device comes close to a resaurant, an alert can show up about the offers available at that restaurant. It can also used for security purposes, so when you are ona vacation and there is a force entry into your house, the geofence around your house is breached and making use of wifi or mobile network, it will send an alert immediately.

In a similar way, the truck when crosses a geofence can trigger an alert message to be sent using the telematics network.

Before we had started working on geofence, there was an assumption within the team that fleet managers would actually be tracking the vehicle status most of the time and they would contact drivers frequently.

Through my interactions with the fleet managers, it became clear to us that the assumption was not entirely correct.

This assumption was correct for smaller fleets (10- 15 trucks) to a certain extent, but nowhere near to being correct for the larger fleets (>50 trucks). For large fleets tracking and tracing trucks all the time was nearly impossible.
So it was a constant challenge for the fleet operators to ensure the trucks are on the specified route and are not deviating.

In countries like Africa, reports of stolen trucks were on the rise. By the time the people in charge would know about the same, trucks would have crossed borders. Considering the cost of the trucks this would incur tremendous loss to the truck and fleet owners.

CRUD

Create, Read, Update and Delete. These were the operations tha were to be made available for geofence.

  • Creating a geofence includes loctation where the geofence is needed, drawing the geofence and saving it.
  • Reading and updating a geofence will need to allow the user to check and amend  its properties as required.
  • Whenever a geofence would not be needed, it can be deleted.

Properties

Any number of geofence can be created. So, they will need to have unique properties to distinguish between each of those. So the geofence need to have unique names and also unique colour codes to differentiate easily.

Goals

After understanding the problem, I progressed to setting the goals for the feature which would address all the problems. After much deliberation and discussing with other stakeholders we filtered down the goals to the following:

  • Provide a way for customers to be alerted when the vehicles leave or enter a zone.
  • Increase customer profits by efficient way of tracking the vehicles .
  • Simple interface to create geofences so as to be able to get alerts when any vehicle moves out of the zone
  • Support to receive alerts on all platform - email, app, sms.
  • Easily consolidate the geofence breach history of all vehicles for reporting.

Solution Details

Geo-fence system could help prevent the problems and be a simple and effective solution.

Fleet operators could draw the fences and tag the necessary vehicles with those geofence. Any vehicle moving out of these geofence would trigger the alarm. Geo-fence was the need of the moment.

Although the solution was thought about with a focus on preventing any such losses to the customers, we also tried to understand if there were any other truck routing-related problems that we could resolve using these geofences and there was one more - marking the best routes and in turn route management.    

The geofence system could also be used by customers to be alerted when the truck enter the customer premises and have a tab on the time spent on loading or unloading goods in their premises. All such use cases proved to be substantial reasons for such feature to be made available for the customers.

Types of geofence

Geofence can be categorized into different types as below:              

Shape Geofence

Circular, rectangular and polygonal shaped

Route Geofence

Fence drawn along a particular route the vehicles traverse

Border Geofence

Identified state/country/international borders can be marked as geofence

Current scope of work included only the Shape & Route geofence.

Operations on geofence

Any fleet operator with the access to create geofence could carry out Create, Read/View, Update and Delete operations for a circular, rectangular or polygonal shape on the map and save them as a geofence.

Step 1: Locate and select the point of interest around which the geofence had to be drawn.

Step 2: Select the Circle shape to draw a circular geofence on the map

Step 3: Click on a location to select it as the center of circle and the geofence would be drawn. The circle size can be altered anytime.

Step 4: On release of the mouse button, the geofence would actually be created.

Iteration 2 : The Fix !

These wireframes were used to conduct a simple user test with some of the inhouse fleet operators just to make sure they were able to understand the flow and also bring the unknowns if any to the surface.

Feedback received mainly informed us about these points: 

New Step 4 : Get the details of the geofence on the details section and modify as needed.

Having the feedback gave us more idea to extend the geofence creation step adding a new step to the existing ones. At step 4 after creating the geofence, when ther mouse button is released, immidiately the radius, latitude longitude details could be populated as shown below.

New Step 4 : Get the details of the geofence on the details section and modify as needed.

Now, knowing the radius of the circle drawn, provided additional info to the users and also modifying to required units gave the user much more accurate control on the size of the geofence.

Users could also set the the rules about when and what messages needs to be sent about any geofence breach that happens.

Step 5 : Set the rules for the geofence and click on 'Create' .

Geofence is now successfully created.

Geofences once saved could be managed through the geofence list. Edit and Delete operations could be initiated from here.

Geofence Alerts

Alerts and notifications were triggered when any of the vehicles entered into a geofence or a exited from geofence.

These alerts were shown as alerts on screen for the web app, notifications sent out as emails, text messages and mobile app notifications.

All the alerts could be tracked from the history and verified as and when necessary.

Fleet admins could select the the link to open the map showing the exact location of the geofence breach along with other details.

After a few more iterations to tweak and fine tune these screen, it was ready for user testing. With limited number of actual fleet operators agreeing for the test, we were able to validate if the tasks of creating and managing the geofences was easily completed without any hassle.

Final Designs

Once all the fine tuning completed for the wireframes, they were taken ahead for visual designs. Here are the final high fidelity designs done.

Results

All the use case identified to solve were addressed by the solution. Once the feature was actually implemented, the customers started using it and provided positive responses.done.

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