Volunteer Impact - Impact Reporting For Community Conservation Groups!
Imagine a system which allowed you to track the activities, impact and changes in your conservation project over time, without the pain of spreadsheets.
Our idea is to help environmental conservation & restoration projects capture the impact of their work through simple data input and automated, intelligent visual reports, to increase engagement with volunteers and increase the amount of funding coming in.
On the other side, we also want to make gathering these reports much more painless for Funders; decreasing the amount of time they need to spend on admin, and increasing the amount of money that can flow to the flaxroots.
What conservation problem are you trying to solve?
We're focused on getting more energy flowing into community-led conservation, to reverse biodiversity loss.
Currently, conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand is dependent on the energy and passion of amazing volunteers around the country, as well as the paid staff in our local and regional councils, NGO's and DOC, who provide support and coordination.
These coordinators are typically expected to be event managers, graphic designers, marketing professionals, web developers, OH&S trainers, rangers, photographers, data scientists and report wizards, all in one person. We can reduce this burden with smart technology which automates some of the time consuming parts, and guides them through the other parts with clever prompts and helpful resources.
By doing this, we can create more time for these people to work on what matters - engaging volunteers, focusing on environmental outcomes, and creating more links to help more money flow into the sector through partnerships, sponsorship and more.
How are you going to solve this conservation problem?
We're currently investigating building web software which will enable conservation project coordinators to enter data, generate reports, and communicate with volunteers and stakeholders. I am currently developing this through a Masters of Design at Massey University, as well as pursuing setting up a social enterprise to create a sustainable future for the technology.
We've already considered capturing "Outputs" as part of phase 1:
- engagement data (such as how many people, how many hours etc)
- activity data (such as trees planted, track built, weeding completed, etc)
- locational data (where the activity happened)
We hope to then move on to "Outcome" data in phase 2:
- this will be based on best practice evaluation frameworks, likely rolling out by conservation activity type - e.g. riparian planting, dune restoration etc.
We're also hoping to move towards Open Integrations in phase 3:
- enabling groups to move their data seamlessly in and out of Volunteer Impact through API's
What makes your idea new and unique?
Three main aspects:
- Visual Reporting is under used in the conservation sector, which means we're not engaging the volunteers, committees, funders and potential supporters with the full potential for sensemaking and understanding. We will automate this, so that beautiful reports will be available to all conservation groups, not just the ones with graphic designers working for free!
- Future-casting - we're investigating the best ways to engage volunteers and build their loyalty over time. Blending psychological motivation, behavioural insights and interaction design, we're looking at how volunteers can project their impact forward into the future, based on the actions they've taken in the past.
- Integrations - we're working on c21st best practice for building databases which talk to one another via 'API' technology which can move data seamlessly between systems to reduce admin overhead. Such as Nature Space, so live reporting is made more useful.
Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?
- Community conservation groups & their volunteers: increased quality of data storage, graphics to engage volunteers, simple reporting to funders. More time to focus on what really creates good environmental outcomes.
- Funders: standardised reporting is something many funders have been telling us they're desperate for, as well as ways to 'pull' reports instead of having to bother/chase groups and waste their time.
- Conservation Innovation Community: we'd like to investigate Open Data initiatives with anonymised sets of data, which would provide insights to drive further advancements in the conservation field.
What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?
I am leading all of the Research, User Experience and Interaction Design work through my Masters of Design.The grant would be used for the first build of the app which would be accessible to conservation projects around the country. We already have good relationships with the Enspiral Network which has a strong track record in technology projects for social enterprises.
Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?
List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?
1) Trap Monitor - http://bit.ly/2dfV9VT - simple use of tech to reduce overhead of checking traps.2) DroneCounts - http://bit.ly/2e9n8g5 - interesting speculative use of tech to tackle hard to reach areas.3) FenceOFF - http://bit.ly/2dNP8DR - if this is possible, it could reduce costs of creating predator free islands.4) Long Live Kakapo - http://bit.ly/2dAfZ3A - I'm not sure of the science, but genetic diversity is definitely a challenge for many species, so if this is possible, it could be worth investigating. Feels like hard core research funding needed.5) Immersive Conservation - http://bit.ly/2do2y94 - whilst I think that education isn't going to be a fast enough strategic response to tackle the challenges we're facing, I feel like we need to keep the pressure up on experimenting with new ways of educating children and adults about conservation / restoration challenges and opportunities. This is a nice use of accessible tech.
How could you improve your idea?
Some areas I'm wanting to explore:- Enabling the ability for users to collect media (such as photos and videos) and use them to improve the outreach and storytelling. For example, a series of photopoints could be automatically turned into a short video which shows the change in the project over time, a bit like Google Photos 'Assistant': http://bit.ly/1G9F27J- Creating frameworks for groups to tell good impact stories, based on the best practice of groups like Polhill (angling the 'Comms Kit' idea - http://bit.ly/2edYdnz - toward telling good Impact Stories, rather than general online stakeholder engagement). - Integrations - the leading edge of technology which are used + loved, has moved from being about good 'user experience' (UX), to good UX and Integrations. Integrations drastically increase the usefulness of software by creating tight ties with other software products. I envisage automations for Volunteer Impact which open up opportunities for using other products in tandem to support marketing, reporting, data collection, and much more.- Participation - the area I'm most excited about is involving the people who want to use Volunteer Impact in the co-creation of the tool itself. To this end, I signed up for a Masters of Design to develop Volunteer Impact with the support and coaching of senior designers such as Tristam Sparks and Anna Brown. In August 2016 I laid out a participatory design approach for developing Volunteer Impact, currently all at my own cost.