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Mapping Boston’s Response to Shootings

Client: City of Boston’s Office of Public Safety


How can we align responses and resources across a complex set of stakeholders?

In 2019, there were 137 shootings in Boston, which was up 20% from 2018. For those involved in a shooting incident, it can be a traumatic experience that unfolds over time. Whether one is the loved one of a victim or the suspect, they are touched by multiple systems and organizations. Boston has many state and local agencies and service organizations that move into action to support an individual and community. However, gaps remain in who receives help, how, and through what channels.

Untangling this complex ecosystem to enable this group of stakeholders to work towards greater alignment and coordination was our role.

We worked with the City of Boston’s Office of Public Safety along with 20 other stakeholders (neighborhood entities, law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office, the Public Health Commission, community-based organizations, and housing organizations) to map the City’s response to a shooting.

Through a series of one-on-one interviews with these stakeholders, we were able to develop a comprehensive understanding of the process and response. We drew from these findings to design two maps that can help the ecosystem identify opportunities for change.

The first set of maps focus closely on what kind of interactions different individuals related to the shooting incident have with organizations. Maps highlight services and interactions for different types of shooting engagement (e.g. family or a victim or community member), illuminating who is served, when, how and by whom.

The maps follow the person through stages of the shooting incident and aftermath, clarifying which organizations interact with the individual during each stage. The invisible interactions that occur outside of the structured system were also brought into the maps. By differentiating protocolized and circumstantial interactions (e.g. connecting with a service provider through word of mouth is a circumstantial interaction), we are able to provide a holistic representation that includes the often invisible supports that may be critical to the system and to people, but are not formally structured or incorporated.

A second map approaches a shooting incident from the perspective of the agencies and service providers responding to an event. By documenting the flow of stakeholders, information, and communication, the map reveals how support is structured based on the nature of the event and provides a scaffold to identify opportunities to increase coordination across the landscape.

Together, these tools identify places where program design, protocols, or communications can be more intentional between organizations and within systems to address the trauma that individuals and communities can experience following a shooting.

Our mission is to use design to reduce structural inequity in America. Agncy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  © 2020 Agncy Design Inc. 
Boston, Massachusetts