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The Streams - Building communities of parents and ECD experts

A community-driven platform where parents and ECD experts can create networks and self-organize data in streams.

Photo of Natalia null
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

I entered the Prize at the last minute, and unfortunately missed the chance to have access to mentorship feedback. I have however found the toolkits, links and resources very useful to organize and write my submission.

Name or Organization

Natalia Rodriguez

Geography

I am currently in Costa Rica, my home country, although I’ll be travelling to Germany and New York during the following months where I’ll keep working on the project. My solution is a mobile platform that can be implemented in the United States.

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD

Type

  • Individual

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

Streams, a mobile app to help parents and ECD experts build local support networks, create a knowledge and recommendation database, and organize data into tagged streams.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Mobile technology is a powerful tool to reach a wide range of parents and ECD experts, help them create networks and access information. Streams is an innovative design for a mobile app to achieve these 2 goals. First, by using real time interactive maps to filter data by location and visualize the network activity in a fast, engaging and simple way. Secondly, by building an innovative tag system to organize data, where users can create streams of data for specific subjects and consume data only per-demand. This is a self-driven community, empowering users to adapt it to their local needs.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Network: Connecting people with each other to enhance the reach or effectiveness of new or existing resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

The Streams is a platform optimized for mobile technologies (smartphones, tablets, etc) to help parents and ECD stakeholders build community networks, share knowledge, concerns, events. In essence, the Streams allows parents and ECD experts within a community to easily connect, visualize the real-time network activity, and build their own shared knowledge and recommendation database. As such, the Streams aims to solve the technological problem of having to combine many tools, giving up on privacy, and having to consume unwanted information to connect and get data. The community network is self-driven, community-oriented, free of charge and non-commercial. The three main components are: - An interactive map: This is where users can see a real time visualization of the network activity and search content. They can also add new posts as map annotations. This map is an easy and engaging way to filter activity by location and visualize the network activity, which is very unique. -A knowledge database: content is labeled on creation using an advanced tagging system such that it can then be organized and searched in an efficient and intuitive way. User posts are searchable and visually locatable in the map, and the content is always interactive. - Streams: users organize content, subscribe and post to specific streams, by simply labeling the content to direct it. Each user experience is unique and a user only consumes the information she decides to receive.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

To find local communities and information, parents usually use search engines, filter content themselves, download multiple apps, subscribe to groups, visit websites, join chats, forums, and overall spend too much time finding the resources they need. The Streams is an effort to bring parents and ECD experts together easily, organize data in streams, find content and build a reusable knowledge database. In this self-driven platform, the community curates and shapes the network to its needs.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Development: I am currently at the Implementation Phase of the MVP prototype for the iOS version of the tool. The plan is to finish this Beta Version and upload it to the App Store by the end of May, 2018. Beta Testing: once a beta version is available for download, 100 users will be able to test it and provide feedback. In a second phase, I intend to build an Android version, but I would need to find funding to develop it with an Android programmer, so right now this version is not in the scope. Promotion and Distribution: Promotion will be done in social media groups and networks. I also want this app to be able to support itself, different ways to do so still need to be analyzed.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

The main beneficiaries are: - the parents, as the tool is designed to help them connect and get the information they need. Having strong support networks will repercute on their quality of life and that of their children - the children that will benefit from informed parents and grow in the support networks - the ECD experts that can have a local platform to expose themselves and reach their end users, offer their support and solutions - the community in general, that can assess what the parents and children needs really are and can act upon.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

The project aims to have a long lasting positive change in the lives of children and families. I believe that a transparent tool where people are connected to share they parenthood experience will be mind opening for the community in general. It will help acknowledge the importance of parents, their labor and efforts, their needs and reshape the ways we support our children in each community.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

I envision this tool to be very successful in all social stratum, however parents of low-income children can find it extremely useful to find support in the networks where they have a lot of chances to find help. Low-income children can benefit from this community support as their parents will expose their needs to the community, which will potentially help them find the right streams and ways to address them. The tool is cost-free and only requirement is a mobile device.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

The Streams is the result of a study of the current networking solutions and an effort to solve main technological issues: big data organization and the current social networking models. It offers several innovative features: 1. An organic approach to community building 2. A self-driven platform 3. A unique smart tags system to organize data in streams 4 A knowledge database with real-time visualizations

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

Work-life balance and the modern pace of life, has made taking care of children in contemporary society a great challenge for many parents around the globe. It is for this reason that having a self-driven community of trusted people becomes indispensable as an alternative to private Centers or Community Homes. Mobile technology allows creating this community, with the potential to reach a large audience of parents who live in the same town or city, and allowing parents within the community to organize themselves and share experiences. First, parents need tools that allow them to find other members in their community quickly and intuitively. Secondly, parents must have an effective and quick way to search and share their experiences with each other. My proposal is a mobile app solution to achieve these 2 goals.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

I am currently in the implementation phase of the iOS version of The Streams. My goal is to deploy a working version by the end of May 2018.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

I believe that The Streams can grow organically according to usage, as it only needs server space to do so. I haven't defined a business model yet for The Streams, as it is important to me to find a way that it can maintain itself and at the same time be ad-free, cost-free, and secure user data (guarantee that it won't be sold).

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

When I first decided to focus The Streams for supporting parents and families, my approach was to first have a talk with all the persons in my network that were going or had gone through parenthood: my sister in Holland that had a baby last October, my friend Ana in Maine that had twins in October as well, my mother that had five children including me, and other friends. Also while living in New York last summer, I collected stories from parents I knew or met. One of them was very inspiring: an indian immigrant, a school director that I randomly met at the subway when she was 5-month pregnant. She told me that she was on her own, her boyfriend was in the UK, with no intention to move to NY, and her family was in India. She was so scared to move on with her pregnancy, knowing that she didn’t have any support networks. She even cried on the trains while telling me her story, me, a complete stranger. I realized how important it is to provide tools to empower parents, let them know that they are not alone, and that there is a community that supports them. I made paper prototypes that I then shared with the programming community at Recurse Center. I got a lot of technical and interface feedback, but my project was so big that I didn’t know where to start. I designed a Minimum Viable Product that I could develop on my own, and that still had the basic functionality to test my solution. This is what I’ve built so far. My next step is to finish and polish the MVP and test on users.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

Exactly one year ago, I lived in a remote coastal town in the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. While I lived there, I could see how the people of that place lacked tools that allowed them to organize themselves, to help each other and strengthen their sense of community. I then envisioned a tool to empower these people, to help them build their community in an engaging and smart way. The idea was to connect them in a network of people who are close and who trust each other. It shall also be a network that is free and maintained by the community itself, not just another social media app or a messaging system. I realized that mobile technology is a powerful tool that could help achieve these goals, since most people, even in remote locations such as Caribbean Costa Rica, have access to smartphones these days. From that point, I dedicated myself to learn how to develop mobile apps. Last summer, I participated in Recurse Center (RC). RC is a 3-month, self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for programmers in New York City where I spent my time exploring mobile technologies, as well as designing, prototyping, testing and developing a Minimum Viable Product for The Streams Platform. At first, I envisioned Streams as a general tool where people could organize content in a very flexible and easy way, but then my sister and my best friend both had babies, and this was point where I realized the true potential of the Streams Platform. My sister lives in Holland, and my best friend Ana who had twins lives in Maine, and what they both have in common, is how they came to rely on the community around them in order to take care of their children while at the same time continuing with their day to day activities. I was able to appreciate first hand how culture, social and government support differ in different geographies, and how having support networks can dramatically improve the parenthood experience, both for the mother and the baby. For instance, my friend Ana organized baby sitting afternoons with other local moms/friends, this way she was eventually able to have one free afternoon a week, which meant the world to her. Ana’s community not only shared baby clothes and toys, but also knowledge and babysitting time. This is when I started to think that all parents should be able to organize themselves this way, to support each other as they go through the same experiences, and to have babies grow in safe and diverse environments. This is why I strongly believe that technological solutions such as The Streams Platform will help parents build support communities, such as Ana’s.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

I need an Android developer for a future version, current one is for iOS and I am developing it myself. I also need entrepreneurship coaching.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

I have been working on this project on my own, from conception to design and development. I received a lot of help and feedback during 3-month programming retreat at Recurse Center last summer, especially in the technology exploration and design phases. At this stage of the project I require help in terms of development and feedback as well as entrepreneurship advice and user testing.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

I'm a Software Developer and Interactive Systems Designer with 10+ years’ experience in the software and technology fields. I hold a masters degree in Digital Media Design and a masters degree in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media. My main interest is exploring the potential of combining technology, creativity and design to build tools that add value in people’s life. LindkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-rodriguez-67461169

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

This is a sample prototype for the MVP using Balsamiq Mockups. The first prototypes where done on paper and given to users on that format for feedback.

4 comments

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Photo of John Hall
Team

Hi Natalia,
I like your project. It seems you have come along way in developing your platform. I love the emphasis. I was wondering if you are familiar with similar community-oriented platforms? There is one in Philadelphia called Milkcrate. They may be interested in speaking with you about building a network for infant and child caregivers such as you suggest. Here's a link to their site: http://mymilkcrate.com/. Good luck, John

Photo of Natalia null
Team

Hi John, thanks so much for your feedback, I really appreciate your taking the time. I am very excited about building a tool that offers a very different approach to social and community building. I was not familiar with Milkcrate, it looks very interesting, we have a common interest in building engaging tools and experiences for communities and I'd be more than happy to talk to them. Have a great day, N

Photo of Janelle Schroy
Team

Sounds cool! Definitely we'd like to be on that grid for what we are doing with Adventure Clubs. Have a look at our submission (https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/ecprize/open-submission/adventure-clubs)

Photo of Natalia null
Team

Thanks, Janelle, for your support, I'll count you in :) I really liked your project too, and wish you much success!