8 weeks

2 Lead UX Researchers

4 UX Researchers


Co-Lead UX Researcher

Thematic Analysis

Competitive Analysis

User Interviews

User Personas

Journey Mapping

Research Goals

As the Co-Lead UX Researcher, my role was to identify and deploy research methodologies that addressed the following research goals, which were created by the UX research team in collaboration with Philly Truce’s co-founders/key stakeholders:

Understand the pain points and areas of improvement during the intake process of incident reporting, which is currently done via pen and paper




Provide recommendations for key features of the MVP (i.e. incident reporting platform system) that would provide an optimal experience for target users (students aged 11-15)

Determine the ways in which this platform can be appealing to our target users in order for them to continuously engage with the Philly Truce app

Dedication to understanding the community through the intersecting lenses of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, and class, and other important identity categories.




Enacting flexibility in research plans to account for a customized approach, particularly one that better accounts for how trauma may be manifested or triggered.

Establishing a connection with the interviewee at the beginning of the interview to build trust and safety. This may include recognizing the individual’s or community’s strengths and resilience.

Trauma Informed Approach to Research

Prior to engaging in generative research, the UX Research team recognized that the topic of community violence in Philadelphia is systemic and complex. Not only are many community stakeholders involved or affected, but may have also experienced trauma in relation to this topic. Therefore, it was fundamental to focus on a human-centered approach where the participants and researchers involved felt physical and psychological safety.

The UX research team put together a document outlining trauma-informed research practices, particularly when conducting user interviews and working with user data. Examples include:

Project Overview

Philly Truce is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to dismantling the systemic factors perpetuating violence in the Philadelphia communities. Based on research from the community, they have been tasked with creating a tool to help document and reduce instances of conflict in and around Philadelphia schools. Currently, incidents are tracked via paper-based incident reports, which make it difficult to track and determine the right locations to place personnel.

The Problem

How do we set up a technological tool that appeals to our target users (11 to 15 years old) who want to share information to reduce violence in Philadelphia?

The Solution

Design and develop a tip incident platform where students can send tips anonymously to Safe Path monitors* to triage and respond to conflicts before they escalate in real time

*Safe Path monitors are part of Philadelphia’s Safe Path Initiative to reduce gun violence in the city. They are individuals that are present around schools at the start and end of the school day.

Philly’s Opinion Survey Thematic Analysis

The UX Research Team conducted a workshop to identify recurrent themes that reflect the concerns, attitudes, and perspectives of Philadelphia residents regarding gun violence. This data* was obtained during Philly Truce’s Peace Patrol activities, with a total of six (6) respondents completing the survey.

*Given the limited sample size, the results indicated may not be broadly generalizable. 

Summary + Potential Research Questions

Overall, the responses to this survey reveal the impact of gun violence in the community and shed light on the complex nature of this issue as perceived by Philadelphia residents. By revealing the key themes listed above, this analysis contributes to the ongoing discourse surrounding gun violence, which demands a trauma-informed approach driven by community-centered interventions.

These findings pose the following potential research questions:

What are the ways in which the Philly Truce app can serve as a trusted resource for the community?




How might the Philly Truce app integrate with existing community initiatives and resources?

How might we enable community members to feel empowered to share their concerns and opinions related to gun violence in Philadelphia?

Competitive Analysis

In order to understand the current use cases of tip incident platforms, a competitive analysis was conducted on 8 competing products (BRIM Bullying Software, Citizen: Local Safety Alerts, NotOK, Rave Mobile Safety, Safe2Say Something, Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, Sprigeo, YouthLine).

The following recommendations serve as potentially useful features and elements to implement in the Philly Truce incident reporting platform for two target user groups:

Relatable and empathic language that is straightforward, easy to understand and specific when providing user instructions.

Resource page that is directly connected once submitting a tip. This could include violence prevention resources, counseling and mental health organizations, and more.

Anonymous tip incident reporting feature with a short reporting form. It should only ask for relevant and necessary information for the student to submit quickly.

Students need to be able to submit a tip without facing repercussions or being called a “snitch.” It is important that the platform maintains anonymity throughout the exchange and messaging process to earn student’s trust.

Recommended Features

Key Insight





Build an incident management dashboard with a user-friendly design in order for Safe Path Monitors and school admin staff to quickly identify and manage an incident.

When an incident is reported, all information should be directly routed to Safe Path monitors and immediately commence an anonymous two-way messaging exchange with the student.

Include a Google-map-llike UI in order for Safe Path monitors to navigate to the specific location of the reported incident.

Recommended Features

Key Insight





Users need a straightforward and easy-to-use experience. Avoiding confusion is key, particularly in instructions on how to use the platform, information gathering, and providing updates on efforts at de-escalation. 

User Interviews

To gain a better perspective on the current needs, goals, and pain points of our target user groups, 1:1 virtual interviews were conducted using Google Meets with students and Safe Path Monitors. The research objectives outlined during these interviews included:

Participant criteria included:

4 students (between the target user age of 11-15) that attend a Philadelphia public school

5 individuals who have experience working as a Safe Path Monitor as part of Philadelphia’s Safe Path Initiative to reduce gun violence

To see the complete interview scripts developed by the team, click on the images below.

The following insights and themes emerged from across user interviews, which the UX Research team recommended during the development and creation of the tip incident platform:


Background & Methods

Students Interview Script & Questions

Safe Path Monitors Script & Questions

Discover possible barriers students face when submitting an incident with Safe Path Monitors or with other community members




Identify how students currently react to, and handle, encountering a conflict / situation that could incite violence or harm 

Understand Safe Path Monitor’s current processes (e.g. reporting, triaging) when a student submits an incident 


For students, the community and the people are what they enjoy most about living in Philadelphia.

Student Insights & Themes

Students seek out someone they trust when sharing something that has happened in their community.

Social media is influential to how students perceive community and reporting.

Students may hesitate to report if they fear retaliation or aggression, or may be perceived as a snitch.


Safe Path Monitor Insights & Themes

Safe Path Monitors require basic, yet important info in the dashboard. They also need processes to be kept simple.

Establishing connection and trust with students are key to the success of Safe Path Monitors.

The greatest obstacles Safe Path Monitors experience to de-escalation processes are social media, instigators, and trauma.

Safe Path Monitors report that they actively monitor safety inside and around the school environment, which has a positive impact on students and the community.

User Personas + Journey Mapping

Based on our user interview insights, three distinct user personas emerged: Safe Path Monitors, Safe City Boys and “School Aged Children.” Further, the UXR took a step further and developed user journey maps to indicate the specific actions and obstacles each persona might face in the journey map lifecycle.


Alyssa’s POV

From the perspective of Alyssa, the Safe Path Monitor (SPM), she just received training on the tip incident platform. She is getting acquainted with the dashboard, the steps to receive/submit a tip, and balancing how to use the platform while performing her regular SPM duties. Ideally, Alyssa will become an advocate the platform sharing the positives of submitting a tip with the students at her school while also feeling fulfilled in her role.

Sami’s POV

Sami is a school aged student, and learned about the platform through a school assembly event. The user journey focuses on Sami witnessing an altercation, but feeling apprehensive about submitting a tip due to the stigma of being called a “snitch”. However, after speaking with a Safe Path Monitor and learning that tips are submitted anonymously, she decides this is the right thing to do. A major paint point identified was that if Sami has one negative experience with this app, it might deter her from coming back and using it again.



Jared’s POV

Safe City Initiative is a Philly Truce program where young male members, aka “Safe City Boys”, learn to develop social and emotional learning and participate in community service in the Philadelphia area. The Safety City Boy persona emerged after speaking with a few individuals and discovering their specific needs and goals. For Jared, we focused on him learning about the tip incident platform from a Philly Truce event. The difference between a Safe City Boy and a “School Aged Child” is that he is seen as a peer resource for their classmates. We envision them building trust and empowering other students to use the platform.

Research Impact on Minimum Viable Product

*All frames were designed and developed by the UX Design team.


Anonymous Two-Way Communication Exchange

Recommendation (per competitive analysis insights): Anonymous reporting feature with a short form requesting relevant and necessary information for the student to submit quickly.

Design Feature: Once a student submits a tip, an anonymous two-way messaging exchange will be activated.

An initial chat bot will began interacting with the student prior to the SPM to gather general information (i.e. location, school, grade, etc.)

All other information will be kept anonymous, unless the student decides to share personal information.


Simple & User-Friendly Incident Management Dashboard

Recommendation (per user interview insight): Safe Path Monitors require basic, yet important information in the dashboard. They also need processes to be kept simple.

Design Feature: Incorporating a user-friendly design when SPMs are accessing and using the incident management dashboard was essential.

SPMs and school admin staff are able to swiftly attend to their main task: identifying, managing and de-escalating a potentially harmful or violent situation.


Clock-in Feature

Recommendation (per SPM user interview): “The three things I would want to see in this platform: somewhere to clock into work, a place where students can submit a report, and that the tips remain anonymous.”

Design Feature: Within the incident management dashboard, SPMs are able to clock in on the mobile app.

Providing this feature gives SPMs the ability to bypass physically checking into the school administration office. This allows increased time for SPMs to engage with students and respond to conflict.

*All wireframes were designed by the Philly Truce UX Design team in collaboration with the UX Writing team.

Next Steps & Recommendations

Based on findings and insights discovered in Phase 1, UXR proposes the following research tasks and methodologies for Phase 2:

Usability testing for the MVP wireframes developed by the User Experience design team




Generative user interviews, specifically students beyond Safe City Boys to gather more insight on the “average Philly student’s” pain points and needs when using a tip incident platform

Survey to understand the types of mental health and related resources students need


Collaborate with UX Design and UX Writing team in any iterations to user personas and journey maps obtained in the above mentioned research methodologies


Continue trauma-informed practice throughout entire research process

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