Ann Arbor is a large and relatively thriving city with a large number of businesses and restaurants within its limits. While many see Ann Arbor as a metropolitan area, it is easy to neglect the fact that the city is surrounded largely by farmland. The businesses and restaurants that help to fuel the city of Ann Arbor also produce a large amount of compostable waste that is often deposited in landfills when it could be more usefully diverted to compost piles used by farmers to create nutrient rich soil. Compost facilities are available in the community; however, soil purchased from these operations can sometimes be costly, and those wishing to supplement their own compost operations are left with little alternative other than to reach out to companies door to door in order to ascertain whether they are willing to donate their compostable waste or not. I feel that the need for a solution for connecting farmers with businesses that are willing to donate compostable waste is high, and as such an application that connects farmers with businesses in the same vein as apps like Tinder and Bumble would be a welcome addition to the Ann Arbor area. My solution is to, “C onnect farmers and business owners in order to provide a point of interception of Ann Arbor’s compostable waste stream.”
My primary audience is farmers and business owners. Business owners should see an incentive to adding a new waste pickup system to their existing business and farmers should feel a tangible connection to those willing to donate compostable waste through interactions in the app. My secondary audience is individuals who are willing to donate compostable waste, but do not meet the volume requirements for a typical farmer’s compost needs.
My solution is the creation of a mobile application that operates much like Tinder and Bumble, connecting farmers with local businesses via the viewing of user created profiles. The matches that result will ideally lead to a verbal contract developed by the two groups for a waste pickup arrangement. The solution will also act as a hub for companies and farms that use the service to present products and services that they have available.
Features of the solution:
1. Create a user profile 2. Enable u sers to learn about compostable waste and/or what types of compostable waste different companies produce 3. Enable users to search for other users via a GPS based matching system 4. Enable users to connect with other users via a “like” system similar to Tinder and Bumble 5. A messaging system that users can utilize after they are connected 6. A social “Timeline” area that users can list products and services
Enable users to connect with other users This feature is a challenging feature to develop for this application. While the application is modeled in the image of apps like Tinder and Bumble, an arrangement between businesses is more complex than simple human to human interaction. Users will need to be able to specify how much waste they are hoping to procure, how much waste they have to donate, and be able to secure a firm commitment to a waste pickup relationship through this app.
User profile creation (used in all approaches) 1. The user registers for the system via their email address. 2. The user specifies if they are a business owner or if they are a farmer seeking compost 3. The user can then set up basic profile information 4. This profile is viewable by all other members of the application the user’s immediate area Design rationale This is an application that is primarily based on what users will see in each other’s profiles, and as such the profile creation stage is an important one. Because of the fact that this is an app that involves potentially formal interactions between almost solely businesses I have decided to cut the user’s ability to enroll in the application via a social media account. This section of the app will most likely feel like it takes the most work on the part of the user; however, because of the nature of the app the amount of input that they must provide into the application after this section is minimal.
Approach 1 1. The user turns on their GPS 2. The a pp generates a series of businesses/farms whose profiles appear on the user’s screen 3. The user may review that businesses’/farm’s relevant details and then swipe to either “like” or “pass” on that business 4. If both farm and business select “like” then a match is created and a dialog between the two users is formed and the two may begin the process of developing a verbal waste pickup contract Design Rationale: This approach to matching users relies on the two users seeing and understanding each other’s businesses and services and selecting to work with one another. With this method, the relationship between two users begins on a footing of mutual understanding and respect for both organizations on top of the willingness to perform the services that they are signing up to provide for each other.
1. The farm user turns on their GPS (common to approaches 1-2) 2. The a pp generates a series of businesses whose profiles appear on the user’s screen and are willing to donate compostable waste (common to approaches 1-2) 3. The farm user sends a request for review to the businesses they would like to work with by giving that business a “like” (common to approaches 1-2) 4. On the business side, the business reviews all “likes” and decides which farms to work with 5. The dialogue option is always open to the businesses and they may send a message to a farm that they would like to work with at any time.
Design Rationale: This approach puts the decision of who initiates the interaction in the hands of the business that is willing to donate compostable waste. I based this approach off of my interviews with farmers that have told me that usually the farmers have more incentive to reach out to businesses than the other way around. This version of the connection process puts less pressure on the business to add an additional waste stream pickup service by allowing the farmers to come directly to them with a proposition, and then letting them choose which is preferable to their organization.
1. The user turns on their GPS (common for approaches 1-3) 2. A list g enerates based on the user’s location that accrues either farms looking for waste or businesses looking to donate waste ranging from closest to furthest from the user 3. When clicked on, each business’ profile information is shown 4. If considered a desirable business/farm, the user can contact that business/farm via the channels that the business/farm has indicated are optimal on their profile page
Design Rationale: This approach takes into consideration that users of this kind of app may not want to stay in the application environment for a lengthy period of time. It also considers that farmers and business owners may not universally be proficient with smartphone technology and attempts to bridge the gap between more traditional ways of finding products and services like a phone book and the newer search platforms enabled by the internet.
Final Design Decision
My final solution will be approach one, involving both farms and businesses “liking” each other in order for a match to be made between users of the application. My reasoning for this choice is that I feel both parties involved in intercepting the compostable waste stream need to have equal buy-in in order for their partnership to have the best chances for success. Allowing for both of the organizations to have the feeling of acceptance and respect by the other party in the form of a mutual “match” will help to speed along the road to building a partnership.