Although digital technology presents a great opportunity to today’s civil society, NGOs working with vulnerable communities in the city of Medellin, Colombia, lag behind other NGOs worldwide in their leverage of digital technologies as a means to amplify their impact agendas. To understand why this happens, I have engaged in fieldwork and interviews with several actors and stakeholders in Medellin’s local social ecosystem. This research has led me to interesting systemic insights; the main one being that the barriers for NGOs in Medellin to further leverage digital technology are not related to technological ignorance, but rather to the lack of novel partnerships within the local ecosystem that can provide digital applications to make up for the lack of their own resources.
Impacta is my answer to the question on how we might provide local NGOs in Medellin with partnerships that allow them to benefit from custom-designed digital applications. Impacta is a service that allows groups of local engineering students and NGOs in the city of Medellin to engage in a design process to develop a custom-designed digital application for the NGO and the community it serves. As a service, Impacta is made up of three components: (1) Digital Platform, (2) Analogue Design Process, and (3) Impacta Organization. As a way to test the main component of this solution, the design process, I have conducted a proof of concept with a local NGO, Arreciclar, that represents more than 300 sanitation workers in the city of Medellin, and a group of 18 engineering students from EIA University.