itracks Recognized as a Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon Hero

Media Release

January 25, 2022

itracks Recognized as a  Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon Hero

itracks was recognized by Microsoft for supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development goals and was named a Microsoft #BuildFor2030 Hackathon Hero.  In support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this hackathon focused on accelerating innovation to create a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future, together.

The itracks team is proud to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 initiatives focused on creating a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world by 2030.   The #BuildFor2030 Hackathon community included more than 900 participants from over 65 countries to begin innovating new industry solutions around five themes — gender equality, climate action and sustainability, digital inclusion and accessibility, enabling the nonprofit sector and empowering communities.

itracks created a more inclusive insights platform by creating the itracks Realtime Mobile App helping to support gender equality and digital inclusion and accessibility.  The mobile app has been developed to interact with the industry leading video and text based focus group/ interview software – itracks Realtime. It will allow people with a mobile device to participate in online focus groups. The app is in the process of being rolled out and will be available to all itracks users within the new few months.

Qualitative research plays a major role in policy development, community planning and product design impacting our everyday experiences. Qualitative research is typically done using focus groups and it is a common technique used by governments, educational institutions, healthcare, non-profits and private companies. Historically, all focus groups were conducted in facilities, typically in the downtown areas of large urban areas. Only 30% of the US population lives within a 30-minute drive of focus groups facilities which limited participation in focus groups. It was determined that many segments of society were excluded. itracks created software to conduct online focus groups. Due to the flexibly of participating online, we were approached by many groups to support conducting research for minority segments of the population and people experiencing disabilities. itracks currently offers a platform – itracks Realtime with 17 different language interfaces for people to participate in their mother tongue numerous features to automate and make the process easy and allow for a research concierge support person to assist users if needed. It is estimated that 41% of families with household income below $30K do not have access to a desktop or laptop computer where 76% of this population segment has access to a smartphone. [1]

itracks embarked on an initiative to create inclusive software and by adding a mobile app, itracks would create access for 17% of the US population with mobile only access. By adding a mobile app to the itracks research platform, we could increase the ability of people within lower socioeconomic status to participate in research and have a voice in policy development, community planning and product development.

The itracks team has appreciated the opportunity to engage in the #Buildfor2030 community and benefited from the Microsoft coding for accessibility resources. By improving our software development process and conducting usability testing at each stage of our design and development, we are making more inclusive software.

Garnette Weber, CEO of itracks states, “the initiative was inspired by a study we conducted with the University of Alberta working with ALS patients and their caregivers and Northwestern University with people experiencing Parkinson’s Disease. The participants had challenges typing and regulating the volume of their voice for video interactions. A higher quality audio feed was needed. The ALS patients were able to connect to another one of itracks products for conducting online discussion boards (itracks Board). Having been released in 2021, the new itracks Realtime video focus group/interview platform was limited to desktop users only. Creating a system that users can connect via a user-friendly mobile environment will bring the research experience to them in their preferred environment.”

In addition, shifting focus groups from in person facilities to online environments creates a positive environment impact.  Every focus group that is conducted virtually reduces the amount of carbon emissions emitted by eliminating travel and removing the need to use traditional focus groups. The Azure carbon calculator session run by MS Hackathon assisted us in measuring the impact. itracks has conducted 95,000 virtual focus groups resulting in an estimated net savings of 47,500 tones of carbon emissions.

The team is proud of delivering a solution to increase accessibility of an online focus group platform to more segments of our population. We will expand the reach of qualitative research and enable organizations to engage and develop policy, products and services addressing the needs of a wider range of users. Once the team excels in delivering an inclusive system for gathering insights, the team will focus on ensuring the analysis of the data is done using AI with an inclusive design.

There are many amazing examples of studies our clients have conducted that have made on impact on the UN Sustainability goals. We encourage the research community to master the skills and adopt technologies to ensure we are accessing all segments of the population in research which drives change and creates opportunities for all.  Contact itracks to learn more.

About itracks:

itracks is a world-leading expert in online qualitative technologies and services. itracks offers a complete qualitative research suite, itracks GO, which allows users to conduct online focus groups, interviews and other qualitative activities from within one intuitive platform.

Contact: Dan Weber, President

North America: 1.306.665.5026 ext. 8264

[1] Journals Sage Pub