As part of the social impact initiatives which were undertaken to leave a positive societal impact on the local economy, the conference chairs reached out to a Panamanian NGO — Pro Eco Azuero. The NGO is located in the Azuero Peninsula and is “dedicated to reforestation, habitat restoration, sustainable land management, and environmental education with the mission to preserve the earth’s ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and promote healthy communities by helping people to make informed decisions, take sustainable action, and share knowledge.”

Project Summary

Pro Eco Azuero needs to develop a plant database which stores information about plants native to the Azuero Peninsula as with this database, they can more easily educate local landowners and empower them to be part of the solution. They also seek to serve as a valuable educational resource for anyone interested in native Panamanian plants. The people behind Pro Eco Azuero are “plant” people, not “tech” people. While they’ve successfully leveraged off-the-shelf products such as Wix and AirTable to create their website and online plant database, the database is not easy to use for people who want to research plant information, and is not easy to maintain and keep up-to-date.

Therefore, we partnered with Professor Matt Goodman (a Faculty Lecturer at Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University) who volunteered to lead a project to find technological solutions to these challenges. He guided a group of seventeen McGill University students through the design thinking process, building empathy with their users through interviews and observation, clearly defining the design challenges that needed to be addressed, generating dozens of potential ideas, sketching interfaces and building high-fidelity, clickable prototypes. The students were split into four groups, with two groups focused on re-imagining the experience of users trying to research plant information, and two groups focused on creating a front-end to allow Pro Eco Azuero employees and volunteers to maintain plant information, for a total of four solutions, each of which incorporated dozens of ideas generated by the students in their ideation session.

Stripped down versions of the final designs were used in the Developing Business Applications class, giving those students some exposure to the realities of programming real-world solutions, and allowing the project groups to see their designs come to life. We continue to explore avenues for further collaboration with Pro Eco Azuero and implementation of the designs created through this project.

Design Assets

You can find screenshots, write-ups, and clickable prototypes of each group’s work at the following links:

Customer Experience Group A

Customer Experience Group B

Data Management Group A

Data Management Group B

Matt Goodman is a Faculty Lecturer at Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University. Prior to McGill, he spent more than a decade at Walmart’s Technology division in a variety of roles, including programming, process engineering, data analysis and reporting, and user experience design.

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the following members for their invaluable contributions to this initiative:

Matt Goodman

Animesh Animesh

Vishal Midha