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Gantabya - The Talking Destination

Gwahali aims to use BLE beacon technology integrated with mobile to help navigate visually impaired people in public transport & hospitals.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar

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What problem does your idea solve?

Navigating bus parks of Kathmandu during rush hour is a hassle with obstructing side shops, throngs of people and noise, then the added obstacle of being visually impaired and using public transport or hospital becomes a challenge. Most of the time visually impaired people seek assistance.It's good that people are assisting but it's not the ideal case. What's needed is the independence and freedom in mobility.This led to an idea of Gantabya,Talking Destination to help them navigate on their own.

Explain your idea

Gantabya, a talking destination is full navigation service provided to visually impaired people with the help of Bluetooth, GPS and beacon technology. We are integrating beacon technology in the public services like public bus and hospitals which communicate/connects with the smartphones of visually impaired person. As soon as beacon senses the proximity of a phone, it will give constant audible directions and feedbacks. We are planning to use this technology as follows: For public transportation: 3 beacons will be installed in each bus. 1. Front door sensor 2. Backdoor sensor 3. Seat sensor - To detect the people with disabilities (here in after PWD) reservation seat It's functionalities: 1. Notifying the user when the bus approaches the bus stop through voice and vibration of the smartphone. 2. Real time position tracking through GPS 3. Notifying user about the PWD reservation seat For public hospitals: Beacons will be installed in various locations like: 1. Ticket Counter 2. Doctor's room (every room will have one beacon installed) 3. Toilets (Inside the toilets, we will install 3 beacons to help them identify the location of commode, tap, and door) It's functionalities: Notify when the ticket counter is near. Similarly, notify when doctor's room is near or toilet is near. User Interfaces: Management Dashboard: To manage and add more BLE devices as per the requirement All the audible notifications: Smartphone Multi-language support: Smartphone

Who benefits?

In 2011, 0.36% of total population was reported to be visually impaired. Out of which majority are in Kathmandu, since it is the capital of the country. Our solution will benefit people with visual impairment, primarily those who uses mass transportation and public health services which mean the majority of visually impaired people of all age group. We will start off initially with Kathmandu as a pilot and then expand to other cities to reach out to nationwide visually impaired people.

How is your idea unique?

If we look internationally, the idea might not sound unique but what we are trying to do here is implementing this in Nepal where the beacon technology is very new and implementing beacon for social good is another unique thing in our project. Another USP of our solution is that visually impaired people do not need to buy any expensive gadget to be able to use our services. They already have everything they need which is just a smartphone. To increase the user base, we have planned to incentivize the user for certain months with a discount coupon that they can use in public transportation, later we are going to link the incentives to the number of people he/she have referred. The coupons are collected per day when their phone triggers the beacon within its proximity on average 40-50 meter distance.

Tell us more about you

We are a non-profit organization (Reg. no. 39977) named Gwahali based in Nepal, established in the year 2014. We help remove barriers, create solutions & expand possibilities through technology so that people with disability can achieve their full potential.We are a team of young yet experienced professionals of engineering and IT background. While we work on the technical aspect, we will be partnering with Sajha Yatayat initially to turn this into reality and actually implement this solution.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

In Nepal, we have a web of transport syndicates made up of private bus owners which make the transportation system unregulated and unmanageable. We are pretty much sure that it will be possible to implement our Gantabya app services within the public mass transit system such as Sajha Yatayat however, we have not yet figured out the plans to implement our idea within the private bus owners. But if this works out within both public and private transportations, visually impaired people will be able to navigate around independently. When we demonstrated our prototype among a group of 100 visually impaired people, the feedback we received was very positive.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Nepal

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

We received many feedbacks not just from the face to face interactions with beneficiaries but also from the OpenIdeo community which definitely have changed our perspective in a good way. From the feedback itself, we have decided to add phase 2 which will basically be related to detect seat occupancy and notifying users whether the seat is empty. After few other feedbacks, we actually pitched our idea to the government body and received a positive response which is a big success for us and will help in the implementation phase. And finally, we want to customize the project open sourced by Wayfindr is also a very big and good change in the entire process.

Who will implement this idea?

We have a team of 5 who will be working full time to make this idea a reality. 3 of them are the IT leads who will add more developers from our volunteer community to turn prototype into working solution, test it to ensure the quality & smooth functioning solution, 1 of them will be the volunteer lead who makes sure to gather enough volunteers to test the solution among the beneficiary & later implement it & 1 as a project coordinator. Government body will act as a key implementing partner.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

We have a team of 11 board members who act as a senior decision making bodies with 5 executive members and 100+ volunteers. We consider ourselves as a very agile team. The major decisions are made collaboratively only after considering diverse perspectives of the team members. We start by setting up a discussion panel to discuss the issues including facts, alternatives, and commitment to make the decision work. The cross-functional team (including executive members and volunteer leads) formulates and brainstorms unique ideas by evaluating the alternatives based on the needs and creating proceeding plans and providing recommendations to senior decision-making bodies thereby maintaining decision quality. After formal discussion and review, the decision is made.

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

Few things that we can summarize why we are attracted to Amplify: -Long-term engagement with experienced mentorship throughout the process -A powerful network of Amplify: We have not even reached the implementation phase but we have so much that we already learned and improved in the process. -The idea of iterating until we get it right with the human-centered design mindsets. -Participatory community constantly giving us feedbacks and motivation to improve, where else can we get that?

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

The challenges faced by our end users are: 1. Mobility Challenge around the bus stops mostly during peak hour when the area is so crowded. 2. Not being able to identify the transportation route. 3. Having to look for assistance to board a bus. 4. Some of the public vehicles have services that provide audio notices about where we have reached but most of the times they just turn it off, so if they can independently access it via their mobiles, the hassle will be minimized. And the system level challenges are: 1. Private bus owners, making it impossible to control the entire transportation system. 2. Not having a predefined bus stop (There is a defined bus stop however the transports are not confined to stop the vehicle only at the bus stops but anywhere they can pick the passenger.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

By 2022, we aim to reach to our targetted beneficiary at the scale of 100 per month, 1200 per year which means 6000 users over the next 5 years thereby improving the independence in mobility of more and more visually impaired individuals. How do we bring public and private transportation system to work together during the implementation phase?

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.

Facebook: Twitter: @gwahali


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gaudence Mushimiyimana

Dear Sonika,Thank you for the idea it really innovative and helpful for person with visual impairment. My additional concerns to what other team members talked about the cost effectiveness of the idea. How much it requires to get all those systems installed into public transport and hospitals compared to the number of targeted beneficiaries? Do all blind people in the targeted city able to afford the mobile phone that can easily link to the app? The issue of sustainability and maintenance should also be carefully assessed. How do you ensure the Government is going to buy in your idea for maintenance? Most of the issues people with disability face is that services are more expensive and stakeholders including the government deliberately opts not to invest in. How do you plan to address those challenge to have government on board to support and sustain the implementation of your idea?

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