Wanted by the Police

More on usability. Cops in San Jose are worried about their own safety. A new mobile dispatch system, with a Windows-based touch-screen, is so complex and difficult to use that officers are concerned about their safety.

Most product managers I meet do not have technology that has the potential of endangering people's lives. Did the makers of this system ever ride in a police car to understand the nature of police work?

Officers say that the most vital safety feature, a call for assistance when they are in danger, is needlessly complicated. With this "off-the-shelf" $4.7 million system, the officers were not consulted beforehand, especially when it came to the design of the interface.

"Do you think if you're hunkered down and someone's shooting at you in your car, you're going to be able to sit there and look for Control or Alt or Function? No, you're going to look for the red button," said Sgt. Don DeMers, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

Maybe we should all pretend that our technology systems are used in life and death situations. With people NOT like us.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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