Monthly Archives :

May 2020

Accessing Reliable Data Through IBM’s COVID -19 Dashboard

Accessing Reliable Data Through IBM’s COVID -19 Dashboard 3358 1898 Karishma Dotia

Designers around the world are addressing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic in some amazing ways. I have been interviewing some of these designers to share their stories with you. 

For the first post, I had the opportunity to interview Victoria Aboud, one of the designers working with a large team of data scientists and researchers at IBM on IBM’s Covid-19 Dashboard.

Image credit: IBM (IBM’s Covid-19 Dashboard  date accessed May 11, 2020)

During this challenging time of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, IBM is providing the public a free and interactive tool to track reported COVID-19 cases. Currently, the dashboard offers trend graphs in the U.S. to view recent statistics down to county level, it also offers global data of number of new cases and deaths, including comparative trend graphs between the countries. Additional information such as available public health information, patient education materials, locations of key healthcare clinics and testing centers and more, are anticipated to be added as available (Source IBM Newsroom)

Victoria Aboud has been a UX designer and user researcher at IBM for ~5 years. Prior to joining IBM, Victoria was a UX designer and strategist at several other design consultancies.

What is your role in this project?

Within this project, I am a designer and have been working with another researcher. I did not initiate the project, but collaborated with a group of data scientists who work with data analytics software. We are trying to give people the information that people are looking for and make sure that information is accurate. We are adding more information to the dashboard, with a visual hierarchy, and users can expect more information based on what we can gather. Our data science team is putting as much as they can, making sure it’s accurate and very reliable.

How is your team facilitating this process?

We did a survey with about 400 people asking what information they are looking for around COVID-19. Based on the answers, we prioritized what kind of charts we shared. l. We are also presenting it so that it is consumable – that’s where my role comes in – I am trying to shape the dashboard so it makes sense and tells the story that’s usable. Using the data we have and the data people want, I  put it all together.

What was your motivation to work on a project like this?

I took  some time out from my regular workload because I thought this was a project which could potentially do some good. It’s always good to work on a project that makes a difference. I think it is worthwhile to provide one more source of good information and it can’t hurt.

What advice do you have for young designers and design researchers out there?

Follow up on how people are using your research rather than just putting it out there and then abandoning it. It’s nice to see if people are actively using it, reminding them of what the research found to make sure that it guides the design. Follow up and follow through on new recommendations and how it’s affecting the design.

For more information about IBM efforts around COVID-19, visit and

Creating Better Access to COVID -19 Related Information in India

Creating Better Access to COVID -19 Related Information in India 3360 1896 Karishma Dotia

This post focuses on Sujit Joshi and his team’s work on COVID FYI to address challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image credit: COVID FYI ( date accessed May 11, 2020)

This project was initiated by Simran Soni, a student at the Indian Institute of Management at Kozhikode, during a hackathon called Coronathon. The team came together during this hackathon, and is composed of volunteers coming from diverse backgrounds, contributing their skills in design, website development, data science, management.

Sujit Joshi is a service designer and UX researcher. He worked with Panorama Innovation for a year after graduating with a Masters degree in Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

What is the problem that your team is trying to solve?

The information surrounding  COVID-19, which has been released by the government of India such as helplines, contacts of health officers, COVID-19 clinics, testing labs, and hospitals is fragmented on the internet. Usually this kind of information is available on the government websites in the form of photographs or scans of handwritten or printed circulars which are in local languages. This makes it difficult to read or easily search the appropriate information. Our team is trying to get rid of this fragmentation of information and making it accessible to people through our website.

How is your team facilitating this process?

Right now we are about 20 people and have a growing team of volunteers who are going through the data and making sure the data is translated accurately. We act as information aggregators for this project, where we literally scourge through government websites to see what details have been released, like phone numbers of doctors who are interested in helping out through a phone call, district helplines in India, places where people can ask for food through community kitchens, get information related to what the symptoms are and get on a call with doctors.

In what ways are you contributing to this project?

Coming from a user-centric designer’s background, I also act as an advocate for users. The engineering team tends to be more on the optimization side of things, where they want to categorize the information properly, but the problem then is, the way this database is structured is different from the way in which users seek out information. I am the UX lead, where I figure out what ways people find information and try to understand different ways in which they process information. Using these observations, I try to make it easier for people to find everything because this website is also available to people of multiple languages, cultures, and educational levels in India. So I am working on ways to make the website interface more understandable and user-friendly.

Read further:

How Might We Redesign a Contemporary School Library?

How Might We Redesign a Contemporary School Library? 1685 1125 Karishma Dotia

Library at Galileo Scholastic Academy of Math and Science.

Kelly, the co-founder and partner at Panorama Innovation, brought together student teams from the Observing Users class at the Institute of Design, IIT, and the Student Voice Committee at Galileo Scholastic to coach them in using the power of design thinking and innovation to reimagine a Chicago Public School library. After these students completed research and came up with some preliminary concepts, Kelly worked with the Design Thinking & Communication class at Northwestern University to build prototypes for mobile maker carts at Galileo Scholastic.

The Process for Designing the Library involved several stages of work:


To understand the problem, graduate students from Kelly’s Observing users class at the Institute of Design (ID), observed and analyzed how the librarian and students at Galileo scholastic Academy use the library.

Defining Problem

After the research, the students came up with the following How Might we Questions to  provide guidance and generate solutions for potential design directions.


In the next phase, design students from the Institute of Design collaborated with the Students from the Student Voice Committee at Galileo Scholastic Academy to brainstorm about how they could make their library environment more creative, engaging, and inviting. 

ID students also facilitated ideation sessions along with Meredith Bowden the principal and Connie Amon, the librarian at Galileo Scholastic.


A lot of the concepts from the ideation session explored the idea of KRE8 Studio – a place where creativity flourishes in many forms – from new curricula and tools to changes in the physical space and furniture.


Inspired by the possibilities inherent in KRE8 Studio Connie Amon, the librarian, envisioned a Mobile Maker Space concept. Kelly then initiated a collaboration with Design Thinking & Communication class at Northwestern University to create the mobile maker carts. Two student teams created prototypes of the mobile maker to test with teachers and students from 1st and 4th grades at Galileo Scholastic.

Through a user centric design process, the students refined prototypes of mobile maker carts. These prototypes have been taken in use at Galileo Scholastic Academy by the students and teachers to see what works and doesn’t to inform the next iteration. With the tools and methods of design thinking, innovation and most importantly, collaboration, Kelly was able to work with students from three different educational institutions to reimagine offerings of the school Library at Galileo Scholastic Academy.

Remote Internships at Panorama Innovation

Remote Internships at Panorama Innovation 150 150 Karishma Dotia

Karishma Dotia

I have been interning with Panorama Innovation since February of 2020 as a designer and researcher. One important skill I learned at Panorama Innovation is the ability to collaborate with clients, researchers, and designers remotely. At Panorama, interns have the amazing opportunity to participate in client projects based in multiple locations around the US. This helped me get comfortable working virtually. The remote working skills and experiences I gained at this internship, before things went in lockdown due to the COVID-19, put me in a good place to transition to working from home.

As my Internship at Panorama Innovation comes to an end, I would like to reflect upon the things that made this an enriching learning experience for me.

Collaboration with people from other organizations

I got the opportunity to work on multiple projects, ranging from large healthcare companies to various not-for-profit organizations which helped me network with amazing clients, designers, and entrepreneurs.

Conducting ethnographic

 The best part was the chance to travel outside of Chicago to conduct interviews with research participants. I also learnt the skills of conducting remote ethnographic research and assisted in them by creating research stimuli for online data collection sessions.

Shouldering decision-making responsibilities

Kelly and Dana were always there to guide and mentor me, but there were times when I had to make important, responsible, and timely decisions, to finish the project tasks on time.

Here is what Panorama Innovation’s past design and research interns have to say about their experiences.

Sujit Joshi
Past Intern
July 2019 – March 2020

What were some of the things that you learned at Panorama Innovation?

“I learned a lot about the human-centered design process and how it is applied in the industry and how design is also bringing people together to generate innovative solutions.”

How do the remote working skills you learned at Panorama help you currently?

“People I am currently working with are more accustomed to working in an office setting than virtually. I understand them and try to make them more comfortable since this is very new to them. Especially during times like this pandemic, I am able to lead virtual discussions and work through any technical challenges.”

Apoorva Changedia
Past Intern
January 2018- June 2018

What were some of your personal goals?

“First was to understand how small businesses run larger projects and  how to recruit research participants for such projects. Another was to get an exposure into the world of not for profit organizations and how funding for them works.”

How did the remote work experience work to your advantage?

“There’s so much you can achieve by avoiding unnecessary in person check ins. I think meetings are very important but you spend a lot of time talking about things rather than actually executing things. So, I didn’t have to travel to work, being a student it was very important to me to manage my time.”

Hellen Lee
Past Intern
June 2015 – January 2017

What were some things you learnt about yourself?

“I discovered that I wanted to pursue a career that had an aspect of research in it. I really enjoy talking to people and like getting people’s insights on everything”

What about the remote working environment did you like the most?

“Flexibility in work hours is kind of a must for me especially if I want to continue being creative. I don’t like being just given a task and then micromanaged, that kills creativity.”