Empowering an ecosystem of family safety through design

Scaling of an integrated agency response to our family harm crisis.
Collaborating with NZ Police and partner agencies, Digital Arts Network (DAN) reimagined a “Safer Sooner” solution to support the scaling of an integrated agency response to our family harm crisis.

As part of the Government’s Safer Sooner initiative, NZ Police has been investigating a new case management system to assist with keeping our families and whānau safe.

Safer Sooner’s objective centred around supporting an integrated response for family harm and violence through tech that can: 

  • Provide the right service at the right time
  • Gain insights to help understand family and whānau’s situations
  • Encourage positive engagement 
  • Support the whole family and whānau journey on a pathway to wellbeing

DAN was one of three partners chosen to facilitate design sprints in separate locations across New Zealand. Our collective mission was to uncover key pain points for the various user groups interacting with the system and identify unique needs for each respective region.

Three key areas investigating the case management system


Creating a holistic view of pain points

Focusing on the Counties Manukau area, we conducted field research and co-design activities over a six week period at Manukau Police Station. We studied how support staff interacted with the system going about their daily work. Similarly, we conducted interviews with internal stakeholders to discover what worked and what didn’t within their environment. 

Extending our focus to other partner agencies, we also facilitated workshops with social workers and non-government organisations. Doing so helped us to identify pain points across the ecosystem and uncover design considerations for the entire case management journey.

Counties Manukau Health district statistics, https://www.countiesmanukau.health.nz/about-us/our-district/

Understanding the flow on effects in the ecosystem

A critical finding was the significant downstream effects that occur when data is inputted inconsistently. Because of the manual data entry process, unstructured content and disconnected data systems, safety planning teams were being unnecessarily hindered. 

Subsequently, case workers were also being impacted. During assessment meetings they were needing to spend more time processing information instead of recommending the most appropriate response. 

Designing for a more informed safety response

To develop design enhancements that would support quicker decision making and efficiency completing administrative tasks, we tested several concepts with different groups. This was achieved using paper prototypes and design walkthroughs with time-poor staff. 

During a final co-design workshop with internal stakeholders, we made a number of critical changes based on this feedback to deliver a more robust solution.

DAN delivered the following value to NZ Police:

  • Established a broader picture of family safety by identifying and involving a wider community of partner agencies. 
  • Raised awareness around data quality within the broader safety ecosystem and its potential downstream effects to community support providers. 
  • Advocated the need for more measurable outcomes by including reporting mechanisms in the design for case workers.
  • Provided a ‘snapshot’ of risk and vulnerability by replacing copy-heavy case studies with visualisations.
Our solution aimed to significantly reduce administration time allowing for holistic safety planning

Supporting the Safer Sooner initiative 

This project presented many challenges in a space that continues to be incredibly complex to navigate. It was a privilege to contribute to the Safer Sooner initiative which is helping address one of New Zealand’s most pressing social issues and helping keep our families and whānau safe. 

We would like to thank the Counties Manukau Police, Friendship House and all others involved for their incredible support and generosity throughout this project.