Logistics and Transportation Solutions

ALC is a logistics and transportation company, with a focus on safely driving special-needs children to and from school. They’re also in the process of expanding their offerings into tech.

The Problem

ALC came to us with several problems and areas for improvement. Primarily, their driver app is built on an outdated framework, and they currently network multiple interfaces between the different users of their software for things like dispatch and service providers.

First, and foremost - this is all operating during a global pandemic. So in order to maintain safety, we designed with COVID compliance in mind.

The previous solution for tracking drivers and keeping schedules up to date could get quite difficult to use.

Additionally, they didn’t have an internal solution for GPS tracking. While they did have GPS tracking to know where the drivers were at any given moment, the drivers could not utilize it for turn by turn direction and needed to also use a third party like google maps, which meant they had two applications utilizing their GPS, burning through user batteries. They also were using an external, third-party provider for compliance checks on drivers, which made it difficult to track.

Finally, any driver or service provider using the ALC apps needed to call dispatch in order to reschedule a ride.

ALC needed multiple interfaces for different users:

  • VIP: Parent-facing view of the transportation process
  • Service Providers: Independent companies in the area who will be handling transportation locally
  • District Portal: For schools to list children on the roster, issue cancellations, and give updates
  • Allows them to track drivers via GPS
  • Quote tool: Ensure the sales team can break down how savings might be happening by splitting between cars and using buses.
  • This design would help not only with budget planning for the district but would also be used as a sales tool when they are able to forecast a more economical fleet based on the geography of their students.

The Plan

ALC’s initial request was that we rebuild their entire system using their old framework and technology, which would require far too many resources and time to properly execute and would also remain outdated. Instead, we updated the service provider portal and complimented it. Additionally, we worked to overhaul the driver app and ensure that things like Compliance and GPS tracking remained internal, as well as solving old problems along the way.

Challenges

With ALC, there were a lot of new challenges to learn and adapt to:

First, and foremost - this is all operating during a global pandemic. So in order to maintain safety, we designed with COVID compliance in mind.

TOP: Previous compliance screens for COVID-19 in ALC’s Driver applicationBELOW: Updated screens for adding a vaccination card, and confirming a cleaned vehicle

Second, there are several design constraints for designing this kind of application for transporting children. Buses are not cars, and can't stop in front of houses, and there's a maximum distance that children are allowed to walk to reach a driver. Additionally, GPS needs to be tracked properly so that children are safe and fraud cannot occur.

Third, compliance encompasses a wide variety of things: license requirements, fingerprinting, background checks, vaccine cards, and so on. ALC’s previous solution for compliance checking was using Contractor Compliance software, which is not designed for this purpose, but rather for construction companies.

The Solutions

Key to upgrading the application, we made sure to develop the application for modern React frameworks and designed it as such.

Additionally, we designed the app to include GPS as part of the application, which heightens security and accountability for drivers. It’s important for child safety to handle ride information within the app itself, and we overhauled the design of the application to make it more familiar to drivers for other rideshare apps.

The previous design’s ride pickup screen.

Our updated views, including a check that drivers are near dropoffs and pickups.

Going along with that, we designed the app for the future, which includes allowing independent contractors to track their earnings similar to Lyft and Uber, as well as schedule future pickups later in the week - a feature unique to our app and the nature of scheduled pickups on a regular basis.

Finally, we designed the app to bring compliance under the umbrella of the app itself, rather than doing so through an independent service, to make it easier to manage and also to keep drivers updated.

Signs of Success

Allowing rides to be reassigned to a different driver, rather than having to call dispatch

While the Service Provider Portal is still in the beta phase with ALC, they have been thrilled with the direction we have moved in regards to user flows and valuing simplicity of action overcomplicated workflows.

The original pitch to Echobind involved moving around from one screen to a few others in order to change a driver, and through some minor revamps we could remove clicks and make the design more intuitive, even for Non-English speakers. With a large portion of the service provider population having English as a second, third, or fourth language, we wanted to ensure that we did not have any complicated directions as part of the process of changing a driver or navigating menus, which informed much of our labeling and button-naming scheme.

Now that the Service Providers have a user interface in which to change drivers and review information, they no longer need to call into central dispatch with every concern or driver change, and with driver changes making up the vast majority of calls into central dispatch, we expect to see a massive drop in call volume.

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