The Pathfinders: What we learned from prototyping

We are The Pathfinders, the group working with the City of Helsinki to monitor and prevent the degradation of nature areas caused by trampling. Our final solution for monitoring the degradation is to set up permanent cameras to take photos periodically of the paths and the ground and use them to observe changes. For prevention, our final solution is to run an online educational campaign to raise awareness of the harmful effects that trampling causes for nature.

To prototype our solution, we decided to do three things:

1) Demonstrate the cameras via taking pictures in the Kallahti area,

2) Design the educational campaign as far as possible, and make drafts for social media and the website,

3) A survey for background information.

The monitoring prototype worked out well. We picked three trails in the Kallahdenharju nature area and took pictures of the same spot one week apart. Then we compared the pictures with each other to see if there have been any changes. As expected, the short period of our prototype resulted in no major differences. However, this prototype aimed to get a glimpse of what the pictures of the final solution would look like, which we indeed got.

Pictures taken one week apart show only little signs of trampling.

The prototype of the educational campaign also went great. We came up with many hashtags and slogan ideas, but we ended up choosing #EnTallannut and “Paths don’t die. Plants do.” for the final solution. We also decided to use the website as an information basin, where we offer information about the project, the harmful effects of trampling and allow the visitors to participate by uploading their pictures of the trampled paths. To get people to visit the site, we would do advertising on Instagram and other platforms, for example, on Twitter and Facebook. The ads would have uploaded links, which leads the reader to the project’s webpage.

To get some background information, we prepared a short background survey with Survey Monkey and got about 100 responses. From the results, we saw that the audience we targeted, regularly visit parks and nature areas, and enjoy doing so. It seems that they would also be interested in taking part in our campaign as 35% answered ‘Yes’ and 46% said ‘Maybe’ when asked if they would participate.

Campaign prototype drafts.

Altogether, the prototyping went well despite the corona-situation and working remotely. The whole process of putting things together, playing around, and testing functions helped us to understand what it was we were trying to achieve. As a result, we gained new insights into how real users would use the product and how the final product would look like. We were also very excited to hear about other groups’ prototypes. It seemed that every group has had a chance to test their idea and had received good feedback to improve their ideas further. We are eager to hear what the final results will be. Before that, we wish the best of luck to the pitches!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *