Bloomcast is a collaborative tool for the WA State Department of Health’s Shellfish Safety Program. WA State is the leading producer of shellfish in the nation, and the Shellfish Safety Program monitors the harvesting of all commercial and recreational shellfish for the presence of harmful marine biotoxins. Because biotoxins pose a serious public health concern, the team needs to be able to test for unsafe levels of biotoxins and urgently communicate shellfish harvest closures. Through methods of contextual inquiry, we observed the workflows and use of artifacts in the team’s process, tracing the journey of the shellfish from the waters of the Puget Sound to the lab. Our result was a concept for a web-based tool to support the team’s capacity for predicting and communicating closures.
To begin understanding the process of how a toxic algae bloom was identified, tracked, and broadcasted by the state health department, we shadowed those who were most intimate with the procedure through the entirety of the process. We then began to map out the pain-points and create a rough workflow for how we understood the process to take place through all of the touchpoints and personnel involved.
After a few rounds of sending our understanding of the workflow to the WA State Shelfish Safety program, we cemented a final current workflow of the team and identified areas which could become more streamlined. This led to an ideal workflow and storyboarding of how it could operate in the future to reduce pain-points and lost time within the current process.
Our final solution consisted of a web application that could be used on multiple devices. The team would be updated in real time and could broadcast closures to the public remotely. It also alerted the shellfish safety team to samples which came from the lab as 'hot' or in other words, those areas of the Puget Sound which needed to be watched carefully because they were tracking towards a toxic algae bloom.