WA state's Department of Health (DOH) Shellfish Safety team monitors biotoxin levels for commercial and recreational shellfish harvests. Consuming shellfish contaminated with biotoxins can be potentially fatal. The DOH needs take swift action to close harvests if levels are deemed unsafe.

Bloomcast is a concept web app imagined as a vital tool to help the DOH communicate harvest closures and leverage data to predict future biotoxin events.

My role

UX Research lead
UX Design lead


Geoff Gray
Erin Wilson
Process overview
*Steps led by other team members are in italics.

01 – Research

Contextual design methods:
Observations and interviews with 10 employees at 3 sites

02 – synthesis

Affinity mapping
Flow map of current system*
Initial presentation

03 – user flows

Prototype testing
User flow diagram*

04 – design

Branding, logo design*
UX design
Final presentation



I harvest shellfish on public beaches and am a frequent user of a Shellfish Safety Map, where the DOH publishes marine biotoxin data. Since this work was completed for a course, I proposed to my team that we reach out to the DOH. This project satisfied my curiosity about where the data about marine biotoxins originates.

collecting samples at the marina

Simply put, staff collect, label, package, and restock mussels for testing. Mussels are used as a sentinel species to indicate biotoxin levels in the water and in other shellfish. For miles of shoreline around the state, the DOH manages hundreds of test sites with help from volunteers and public agencies.

testing at the lab

Mussel samples are sent to the lab to be tested for biotoxins every two weeks, often via Greyhound bus! Results are then shared with the Shellfish Safety team on a data management software. But if samples are "hot," they phone in the results immediately.

Communication closures

Once the Shellfish Safety team decides to close a site based on lab data, they work quickly to alert the public, including commercial shellfish companies, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and managers of public shellfish beaches. They also update the public online biotoxin map. Timeliness is key since a marine biotoxin outbreak could cause serious illness or death.

The problem

As a team, we decided to focus on the closure communication process. This work needed to be done urgently yet required the most manual steps, including printing PDF files of reports, referring to post-it notes for updated contact information and highlighting each harvester contacted.

The team needed a better way to manage communication with harvesters, who were the "customers" of biotoxin data.
Simplifying the closure process
Closure decisions start with results. Results are mapped, and team can easily search, sort, filter, and flag results.

Closure data is entered and linked to biotoxin data instead of being kept in separate systems, so that the public map can be updated in real time.
Outreach and relationship management with ease
With every touchpoint, harvester information is updated. The team can also maintain contact information and lists for each marine area. No more errant sticky notes!
Bringing team collaboration online
The team can coordinate by assigning contacts. Team members can be off site and still pitch in with urgent closures.
See more work