Upgrading from a paper-and-spreadsheet system of data collection, the RMIT Student Union wanted a proper database for their Student Rights Officers (SRO) casework. The database had to be equally accessible to PC and Mac users—making a web application the sensible choice—and flexible enough to let the officers collect student and case details in a discreet manner during student interviews.
Here at the Labs, we worked closely with the Student Union to determine the data fields to be collected and the most usable form in which they could be presented. We worked hard to ensure data integrity in a database that needed more flexibility than is normally offered by process-driven constraints—that is, the database doesn't set the rules of casework, the people do.
Advanced search queries are performed by users with varying levels of access to restricted data, and results are presented in a variety of formats. We built a uniquely powerful search tool, the Rules-based Search Engine, which inspects and understand the relationships between the various entities in the database (Students, Cases, Interviews, etc), as well as the relatively sensitivity of data fields within these entities. Using this tool, officers could build and bookmark search queries much like you construct rules and filters in your email client.