The latest episode of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with designer and engineer Eduardo Ortiz. Eduardo is a Marine Corps veteran and Director of the U.S. Digital Service. He’s also co-founder of &Partners, a social impact studio that works with organizations to help improve their communities. In this episode, we discuss how they manage their information to drive change.

Eduardo spoke of their first project, which was set up to address the difficulties faced by immigrants in the Southwest U.S. border:

My partners and I, we started doing research to try to figure out what exactly what’s going on, which really meant making a lot of calls and starting to read the news to truly understand what was happening at the Southwest border. And when we kind of came up to an idea of what we could do or what the challenges were, I started talking to my wife who was a public defender, and she helped me kind of create this understanding, this framework for how children and families could be helped from a position of a legal expert, if you will. And once I had that I made a call out to pretty much anyone and everyone who had cycles to spare to join me. And about 40 people ended up volunteering to to join us and we ended up creating pretty much a relationship management system that we then partnered with New America and the Vera Justice Network, to provide a system that the legal providers at the Southwest border could use to reunify families.

We live in amazing times in which small groups of committed people can spin up systems to help solve complex social needs. Eduardo and his team could go from seeing something playing out in the news which they didn’t like, to asking themselves the question “what can I do about it?,” to actually doing something about it, relatively quickly.

One reason why we can spin up such solutions so quickly and inexpensively is that many digital systems are designed for collaboration and integration with other systems. During the interview, Eduardo also discussed how &Partners created a relationship management system using such a mash-up of tools.

Check out our conversation. And if you’re enjoying the show, please rate or review it in Apple’s podcast directory — this helps other folks find it.