Interview with Delia Di Filippantonio, Senior Design Thinker at the Satellite Applications Catapult
IPP CommonSensing is an innovative international project based on a partnership between Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and a consortium of international partners, working together to support and build climate resilience and enhance decision making through the use of satellite remote sensing technology.
The UK based Satellite Applications Catapult has been responsible for the project management, user experience design, data products and development, infrastructure, sustainability support and communications for the IPP CommonSensing project.
Interview with Delia Di Filippantonio
Delia is a Senior Design Thinker at The Satellite Applications Catapult. She works with a variety of stakeholders across sectors to design space-enabled services that are grounded in a clear understanding of the user needs. Delia co-led the user requirements gathering activities for the CommonSensing project and worked with the development teams to define and iterate the applications’ user experience design.
We put forward some questions to Delia to highlight the complexity of designing and delivering on the IPP CommonSensing Project remotely across several time zones.
The CommonSensing Project has already added much value in real-time, long before its intended conclusion. What has been the biggest challenge for you from a solution design perspective?
It has been an interesting challenge to make sure that all the perspectives of the users we are working with were represented and integrated into the end-product. Within CommonSensing, not only are we working with 3 different countries, but also with a wide range of user types, from decision-makers to technical analysts. All of these users in turn have a specific focus on the sectors they work in, which range from climate science to disaster management, to agriculture and so forth.
Using the tools available to us to design a set of applications that also take into consideration all the different points of view has also been a complex and iterative process.
The CommonSensing Project has embraced “user-centred design”. How has your team at The Satellite Applications Catapult embraced this methodology to communicate effectively with all stakeholders?
The Satellite Applications Catapult’s User-Centred Design team has always championed this approach in the many projects we are involved in – the CommonSensing Project is no different.
Since the beginning of the project, extensive user research work was conducted to map out stakeholders and potential users of the CommonSensing platform. The process is then to fully understand the user context, their challenges and needs, and finally to ultimately map out such requirements against what technical solutions need to be put in place in order to address them.
This approach is key for us to ensure we are delivering an end-product that takes into consideration the users’ context, motivations and objectives.
The CommonSensing project is an example of Catapult successfully being able to work across several time zones with many moving parts. What has been your biggest challenge in delivering work across a global audience?
We had to run some training and demo sessions to showcase the work-in-progress platform to users, and because of the differences in time zones, we had to rely much more heavily on pre-recorded videos than we would usually do.
The obvious big challenge has been the restrictions on travel during the Covid pandemic, which meant that we could not be in the field. This would have facilitated a much more personal approach, and an easier way to gather immediate feedback and ideas to iterate the applications.
Pandemic aside, having to deal with multiple stakeholders on a global scale, has meant much more behind-the-scenes organisation. For instance, when deciding to host a workshop online, working out different time zones has not always been the easiest task, and a few of our attendees had to commit to work outside of normal office hours. This may sound trivial, but it definitely added one more layer of complexity on top of the usual organisational work needed for online workshops.