Ask Izzy – Tech for Homelessness

This project is about the design and development of a web app to help those experiencing homelessness to find the help they need. Since deployment in 2016, it is now attracting over 10,000 users each month.

User research efforts were towards the elicitation, representation and communication of diverse stakeholder needs. However, this can be particularly challenging when developing technology embedded within complex social systems. So-called socially-oriented requirements can be abstract, ambiguous and driven by the organisational, cultural and political contexts of the stakeholders involved. Motivational models are one solution which supports project-wide understanding of the key goals of stakeholders. There is still a lack of understanding about the role they can play in larger industrial projects. We used motivational modelling in this Australia-wide project that develops new technology to assist people who are homeless in accessing service providers.

We interviewed 100 stakeholders and utilised motivational models to advocate for the needs of key stakeholder groups. Participants were either homeless, ex-homeless, service providers or software developers of the web application. Seven themes emerged from the analysis that appeared to act as barriers or enablers to the uptake of the technology. We discuss how these themes are associated with aspects of technology design or an associated experience with a service provider. We also contrast the views of those who are homeless with service providers. We believe these themes will provoke discussion and be useful for others who are designing for those who are homeless.

Methods: Semi-Structured Interviews; Thematic Analysis; A/B Testing; Systems Thinking; Questionnaire; Semi-Controlled Experiment; Process Efficiency Analysis; Emotion-led Design; Motivational Modelling.



Motivational Modelling in Software for Homelessness: Lessons from an Industrial Study (2019)

(To Appear) at 27th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, 2019 
Rachel Burrows, Alexi Lopez-Lorca, Leon Sterling, Tim Miller, Antonette Mendoza and Sonja Pedell


Co-Creating Technology for Societal Change: A Mobile App addressing Homelessness (2019) [Top Paper Commendation]

(To Appear) at the European Network of Living Labs:Open Living Lab Day 2019 (OLLD’19) 
Rachel Burrows, Antonette Mendoza, Sonja Pedell, Leon Sterling, Tim Miller and Alexi Lopez-Lorca 


Evaluating Ask Izzy: A Mobile Web App for People Experiencing Homelessness (2019)

In Proceedings of 17th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET). 
Rachel Burrows, Antonette Mendoza, Leon Sterling, Tim Miller, Sonja Pedell


Motivational Modelling (2019)

IEEE Software Blog
Leon Sterling and Rachel Burrows


Emotional Attachment Framework for People-Oriented Software (2018)

Mohammadhossein Sherkat, Antonette Mendozaa, Tim Miller, Rachel Burrows