In 2011-2012, the UX Agency I worked for were tasked with ‘Project X’ (referred to as Plan X, System X below) for DARPA. We worked with folks from Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Frog Design, VoidAlpha, and a few other usual suspects to try to map the internet, and create a tool for military officials that can be used to for cyber defense. We would each present our solutions in order to help DARPA better understand the problem, and try to solve it the way we see it, each having various expertise in specific areas. Some technology, some engineering with existing solutions in use, and us, a UX approach and software design. The sky was the limit and we were to do what we do best, and imagine all possibilities. I was vetted, and invited to present at DARPA HQ in Arlington, Va.
We dedicated close to a year in research – conducted dozens of interviews with servicemen in the Army, Marines, and Navy – went to Def Con, interviewed white hat / black hat hackers, application security professionals, SME’s in cyber defense and capabilities, worked with our friends at DARPA and the Department of Defense to create Personas and use cases for their day to day, and what happens in various situations so we could realistically apply a solution to accommodate their to the minute schedules, meet each goal, and try to save time and money.
Much of this experience I cannot share, what was discussed, who, and am using specific language by request at the time. I feel privileged to have had the experience, to be trusted to present and deliver my best. It was once in a lifetime and really fun as well, we also ate, drank, did karaoke, and I’ve maintained my friendships still to this day, with some of the other presenters.
The solution in its stages that I designed, I can however share and is as follows. The UI is definitely a little bit dated- but, it’s been 12+ years – I wanted to have a bit of fun with it and appeal to our core persona, and it was a concept design. Oh, and the end result, was the following design was chosen for further development for the 5 year project. It also happened to be the most cost effective solution, saving civilians lives’ – the UX research we delivered also had many valuable insights.
ABOUT THE SOLUTION
The following are final screens on a tablet- easy to use and approve plans from, plus the plan “Approver” or assistant has one with them daily.
Terrorists place their servers in civilian areas such as hospitals and schools- the competitors approach was to send a drone strike- with their very cool but very expensive drones. I designed a system allowing a low-level military official with less training, to shut down enemy servers, which was more cost-effective and saved civilian lives. This project was chosen and is in use today. I created the concept UI based on the original Tron.