For the Government of Saskatchewan, the problem was that economic data was spread across multiple sources on the web and teams within the Government — collecting, organizing and disseminating this information required considerable effort and headaches for administrators.
From January to March 2016, we worked with the Ministry to define the problem, understand desired outcome(s) and ideate features. This led to a technical approach, scalable workflow and a co-designed plan that empathized with all users. Our development team started by building a technical prototype that would simply parse data from Statistics Canada, serve it to a front-end framework and easily publish it.
At the end of March 2016, we launched a powerful yet friendly application providing accurate and timely data for those who sought it. What began as a dashboard for one government department could now be used for other ministries and indicators in the future.
The project lead, Ellen Glaze, commented… “Working through the co-design session with zu was an eye-opening, rewarding experience. The two-day session brought together our stakeholders to brainstorm and prioritize design elements critical to achieving the goals of the project. zu's team coached us to think critically and creatively. It shifted our mindset from back-end operations to an intuitive, user-friendly front-end experience. zu's expertise in the design thinking methodology was paramount in the successful development of the Dashboard.”
Right Place At An Unfortunate Time
In 2020, the whole world changed in a matter of days. The pandemic created intense citizen demand for information surrounding the state of COVID-19 both locally and globally — everyday citizens became overnight epidemiologists. The Ministry of Health was facing a similar challenge that the Ministry of Economy faced in 2016 (with a smidge of added pressure): how to publish up-to-date, accessible and self-servicing information for Saskatchewan stakeholders. The difference? Rather than updating economic and population data quarterly, we needed to publish sensitive health data, daily.
Although five years old, the Saskatchewan Dashboard was a well-maintained and optimized application, ready to house and visualize new data sets. The Ministry of Health requested a custom workflow into the existing platform, one that matched their unique administrative processes, charting needs and data formats. With the Ministry of Health, we defined requirements, cleaned up data sets, created templates, added additional security and automated parsing, serving and publishing wherever possible.
Functionality is one thing, usability is another. In order to move quickly (and efficiently), our designers sketched wireframes to visualize intent, gain feedback and make revisions before bringing the designs to life in development, ultimately creating the Health and Wellness tab of Saskatchewan’s Dashboard.
Throughout the pandemic, new indicators were added, changed and adapted with the ever-evolving COVID-19 data. Users are now able to see cases, hospitalizations and recoveries, testing data and vaccination rates cumulatively and drilled down by location. As the pandemic evolves, the dashboard will continue to serve the needs of government officials, health officials and provide the public with the information they need in order to stay safe and informed.
Unique page views per week
Prior to its launch, the Saskatchewan Dashboard was visited occasionally for general information surrounding business, economic and population data. Following its launch, the Dashboard was handling ~200,000 unique page views a week, nearly 20% of the Saskatchewan Population.