A crowdsourced data management platform, SaniTracker, to monitor and encourage the use and maintenance of decentralized drinking water and sanitation facilities in less economically developed countries.
See below for the full description of our project
Although our team has a solid idea and a good grasp of the science, engineering, and social aspects of the drinking water and sanitation industry, we do not have experience initiating mobile applications or established long term relationships with communities in the developing world where decentralized drinking water and sanitation systems are common. As a result, a partnership with World Vision will be essential for the success of this project. A mobile application that is able to evaluate water and sanitation services needs to be well integrated into various communities that hold different values, livelihoods, and standards of living. It is for this reason, that strategies on how to build awareness and engage the public to use our product will be essential. Through World Vision, we will be able to make connections with stakeholders who are well-versed in various areas of international development and understand the best methods to market the use of our product and spread the word to locals.
A connection with World Vision will give our product a reputable connection and credibility to create necessary connections with local governments, organizations, people, and resources, which will be essential for launching our application.
Strengths & Weaknesses
People are interested and motivated to rate sanitation facilities and drinking water systems.
Most Significant Challenge
o The proposed system is inspired by crowdsourcing and data analytics programs in Canada, a wealthy country with widespread smartphone ownership, internet access, and high literacy rates. Users in developing countries may face barriers that hinder them from participating in the system. Barriers may be due to poor infrastructure leading to poor mobile networks, low literacy rates, and accessibility to smartphones or cellphones.
o The system will include multiple ways for users to participate to maximize accessibility. Cell phone users can either send reports via the smartphone application, SMS messages, or through an interactive voice response system. Users with no access to cellphones or are in an area with poor mobile networks can participate through on-site touchscreen kiosks.
User perception and attitudes
o Based on previous government unresponsiveness to similar issues, users may have low expectations and choose not to participate. In addition, there may be concern for privacy.
o Well-planned and extensive outreach will be required at the beginning of the pilot to promote the new system and address the users’ concerns regarding privacy.
o Regular updates on the progress towards addressing the problems reported will be communicated to users. Bi-directional communication will motivate users to continue reporting problems as well as establish trust.
Cultural and political clashes
o There will likely be cultural and political clashes that we cannot easily anticipate.
o Local partners for this project will be required. Each pilot and eventual real system will be unique to the community in which it operates.