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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

Written by

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: https://www.facebook.com/Gwahali/ Twitter: @gwahali

124 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Gaudence Mushimiyimana
Team

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?

Photo of Kieran Hanrahan
Team

This project bears comparison with the WayFindr BLE beacon project currently on trial in London (with Google funding) and run by the Royal Society for Blind Children.  As much as I would like to see it succeed for obvious reasons, there are sustainability issues around the use of BLE Beacons.   I met with the project leads in London recently and whilst they have made progress, there are still substantial challenges ahead.  For starters, the BLE beacons batteries do eventually run out and as such they have to be hard wired into the electrical systems.  That's expensive.  Retrofitting enough beacons for its to be useful looks prohibitively expensive.  Moreover, recently trials in London has shown that there are still shortcoming with Wayfindr in regard to its accuracy around navigation and that is a critical issue around transport in an urban setting.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Dear Kieran,
Thank you for the feedback.
I have also read and studied about WayFindr and also been thinking of using the open standards that they have announced recently. I agree to the fact that there are challenges that come with the use of beacon such as battery draining.
I have researched a bit on what kind of alternative do we have for the beacons and found that we can also get solar powered beacons and also the USB beacons. Solar powered beacons could be an alternative way to make it work since we have been planning to attach the beacon in the bus stop and bus itself. The London trials were done in the subway maybe that's why solar powered beacon usage was not possible.
We really believe that despite the accuracy issue (which we definitely need to overcome), it will provide navigation assistance to visually impaired people. But, accuracy is the key towards successful implementation of this service.
Thank you for valuable feedbacks :)

Photo of Jhènne Nangsetsang
Team

Keep it up... god bless!!!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you :)

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Sonika and Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from the Amplify team and an external set of experts. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

General feedback from experts:
• On expert shared, “This project describes a unique combination of technologies to solve a persistent problem. Even in developed countries, there are many problems integrating indoor and outdoor navigation technologies to benefit people with visual impairments. The combination of beacons for precise indoor information, combined with GPS for the outdoors has been proposed by some developers over the years. A search of the US SBIR program grantees may yield results that will help to inform this project. In any case, as the applicant mentions, the business/bus owner buy-in to installing beacons is likely to be a major hurdle to overcome on the way to successfully realizing this solution in practice.”
• Another expert shared, “The most exciting about the idea is about the complete independence of the user.”

What experts shared for is this idea desirable, feasible and viable?
• One expert shared, “Yes, this idea appears to be desirable, feasible (once certain questions are answered about who pays for and maintains the beacons), and viable. In terms of viability, my question would be what’s your business model to generate revenue to pay for the maintenance of the app itself, and the beacons?”
• Another expert commented, “Desirable: Yes, this idea will be valuable to the public and private transportation because encourages people to act and use the transportation system. Feasible: The implementation of this idea is plausible, my question would be can you explain the maintenance needs, battery exchange, repair broken sensors etc.? Viable: Can you share how you propose this idea might generate income?”

How does this idea consider user needs?
• “Yes, it appears that this idea considers user needs. The survey of 100 people is a great start! Can you explain how users will continue to be involved throughout the development, testing and scaling phases?

Additional questions from experts:
• Having hundreds of beacons around the city requires maintenance, who’s doing that?
• What is the likelihood that the majority of visually impaired users will have access to smart phones that are activated through the BLE beacons?
• What’s the follow up once info is disseminated using the beacon? Is this a conversation or one-way information given as the phone passes the beacon?
• Why can’t this system live outside of the phone/beacon idea and just be movement sensors that activate a speaker attached to the physical space when the user is close to them?

Thanks for sharing the important work you are doing!

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: http://ideo.to/DXld5g Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 4 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at amplify@ideo.org

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Dear OpenIdeo team and Respected experts,
Thank you for the wonderful feedbacks.

After going through the questions from experts, I have categorized and answered below:

1. Business Model/Revenue Model:

a. Data Analytics: In our solution, we are using the Bluetooth-enabled device, beacons as a hardware, mobile as a middleware and cloud platform to monitor and manage the content and the interaction to gather analytics and measure results for the efficient administration of the hardware. The gathered data can most definitely be used to improve our solution however it will also act as a valuable asset to the government as we know that Data is the new oil.

The government has to make many investment and decisions for the better use of transportation system and these decisions can be heavily influenced by the transportation data which we are capable of generating within our solution. With the data sets generated in the process, we can do necessary analysis which can answer many transportation needs thereby improving the services and making our transportation system data driven.

What we plan here is to generate revenue out of the data collected, for the sustainability of Gantabya, the talking destination.

b. Contextual Advertising: By adding business partners to use our beacon networks to broadcast commercial messages for the app users.

c. Location based marketing and advertising: Adding to the contextual advertising, we can also do location based marketing to targeted audience as we are going to add GPS navigation services as well.

d. Donations from common people or interested organizations who finds our solution interesting and wants to support our initiative.

2. Maintenance and buying beacons, having hundreds of beacons, who maintains that?

With the revenue generated from the points mentioned in point no. 1, Gwahali will act as an implementing partner and will support the maintenance and repairing of the beacons. Beacons use very less power hence is capable of running on the existing battery for up to 2-3 years, however, we can also look for an alternative way and get solar enabled beacons or USB beacons.
And, with the cloud platform, it enables us to do easy monitoring and maintenance of the beacons.

3. Can you explain how users will continue to be involved throughout the development, testing and scaling phases?

Since we believe in agile development methodologies, we would like to combine development and testing. While we develop the solution, we also keep on testing the system with the beneficiaries/users. We set a milestone/deadline for a feature to be completed and then set up a session for testing the solution with the user group and take feedback. Based on those feedbacks, we will keep improving our solution.
For the scaling phase, we want to use the referral mechanism. What we started to 100 users, have potential to grow up to thousands of users with the same 100 users network through referral techniques. Referral mechanism might be a hit in the process since we plan to provide an incentive for each referral made.

4. Likelihood that the majority of visually impaired users will have access to smartphones?

In 2016 smartphone penetration in Nepal crossed 100% according to Nepal Telecom Company. To be honest, I do not have exact data on how many visually impaired people have smartphones, however during our research and surveys, we have found that most of them use smartphone which is also because we can buy it for less than USD 40. We definitely need to research more on this aspect.

5. What’s the follow up once info is disseminated using the beacon? Is this a conversation or one-way information given as the phone passes the beacon?

Beacon transmits data in one way direction, actually, the data is only the unique identifier that triggers the app in the phone, it's the phone app that interacts with the user with audio output.

6. Why can’t this system live outside of the phone/beacon idea and just be movement sensors that activate a speaker attached to the physical space when the user is close to them?
In a brief discussion with a group of visually impaired individuals, some also referred to the fact that speakers can also act as a medium of information. However, when we ask them to choose between two (speakers and the mobile notification), they chose the latter. The reason behind this is, the mobile app gives them the benefit of control on their own hand and sometimes in the rush hour at a crowded place, the speaker might not be noticeable. Based on the user feedback and survey, we decided to choose this technology.

I am really very sorry for the late response and I hope I have answered your queries. I would be more than happy to answer more queries if any. Thank you again for the feedbacks. Very much looking forward to turning this idea into reality.
Best Regards,
Sonika Manandhar
Nepal

Photo of KIN LING
Team

this is a great idea which can help virtually impaired people to overcome one of their living inconvenience. However, this idea needs a high level of technological support as well as the support by the local government, since it needs to install equipment on the public transportation, such as 3 places (front door, backdoor, and seats) in the bus, I am afraid of the huge amount investment to implement this technology. Besides, instead of the hospital, we can apply this technology in other areas that is much more related to disabilities' daily life, for example, shopping malls, parks etc.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Kin Ling for the feedback :)
We do understand the challenges during implementation in public transit system, however, we definitely want to change the way we have always lived. We want to bring a national level whim. We definitely want to seek support from government and each stakeholder related to this.
About the cost of the devices, we can get beacons as cheaper as USD 25 and has years of life. I am sure we will be able to prove the viability and best usage of the solution, hence to attract the concerned authorities for the investment require after one pilot.
And about broadening the usage to shopping malls and parks, we definitely want to and we will be expanding the solution to every possible places to make more accessible. :)

Photo of KIN LING
Team

Do you hear about the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)? Is it the technology that you are going to apply in this innovative idea?

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Hi Kin Ling,
We are not going to use RFID but Beacon technology which uses Bluetooth and can be configured through smartphones.

Photo of KIN LING
Team

I see, but does Beacon technology face the same challenges with RFID technology while it is implementing? Such as privacy problem (shared location), battery usage and the accuracy of the information will be affected by distance, temperature? moreover, since this technology should be used with a mobile application, what about if the impaired people cannot afford a smartphone or non-smartphone user?

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Hi Kin Ling,
Thank you for your queries.
1. Since Beacons only talks in one way direction, they can broadcast data (that too very short unique identifiers) but they cannot read data off your phone or store any information within it, so privacy will not be an issue with this.
2. Regarding the battery usage, it uses very less battery, around 1-3% over the course of the full day.
3. It depends upon the immediate surrounding, however one could detect the presence of beacons as far away as 50-70 meters or as little as 10 inches. Temperature might affect the battery life of beacon.
4. This one is a very difficult yet tricky question. In 2016 smartphone penetration is Nepal crossed 100% according to Nepal Telecom Company. I do not have exact data on how many visually impaired people have smartphones, however during our research and surveys, we have found that most of them use smartphone also because we can buy it for less than USD 40. I will be researching more on this.
Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Photo of siying
Team

great idea

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you :)

Photo of Aishwarya J
Team

Its a great start to help the visually impaired specially when it comes to their daily commute. Have you thought about exploring other countries or is it just restricted to Nepal?

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Dear Aishwarya,
Thank you for appreciating the idea.
We want to implement this in Nepal at the moment and once we create success stories here, we will gladly expand to other countries too, thereby sharing benefits to many people around the globe.

Photo of Rowan
Team

Anything to help normalise the daily life of a person with a disability is fantastic! Particularly as it relies on such a common-place medium such as the smartphone app. A thought regarding the coupon incentives: the incentive is perhaps more so in the inherent value of apps function, and by adding an additional incentive targeting instances of use it might shift the motivation of the individual using it (i.e. it encourages more use of the app to get coupons rather than because it's necessary or of assistance). It might even reduce the perceived value of the apps function by implying further incentives are required to maintain usage rates. Perhaps if there are coupons used, the incentive can be linked to the number of people the user get to register / use the app. This way the inherent value of the apps function is maintained and the coupons inventivise the behavior of introducing others to this fantastic app, for the benefit of those people. Good luck with this endevour!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Rowan for your valuable feedback. :)
I really appreciate your idea about linking the incentive with the no. of people the user refers to for registration. Maybe we can use the coupon incentive system for certain days and when we get targetted (say 100) people registered, we can close the coupon system and link the incentive to user registration as you mentioned.
Brilliant idea. Thanks :)

Photo of Virginia Williams
Team

Great idea, can you explain the mechanics a bit more? Does the user use earphones to hear the voice commands? I also wonder about the comment by Kin Ling. Do you have a partnership or will you plan to with the Ministry of Transport? This would be key I would think. Interested to hear more!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Dear Virginia,
Thank you for the feedback and queries.
The user gets constant audio feedbacks from the mobile phone, the user can choose to use the earphone or not according to the requirement while accessing the Talking Destination system. We have planned to partner with government and yes as you said this is going to be the key for the implementation phase of this system in Nepal. As for the pilot phase, we want to partner with Sajha Yatayat which is a public mass transit in Nepal.
Next challenge would be to implement this in private mass transportation system. As mentioned in the article above, here in Nepal we have a web of transport syndicates made up of private bus owners which make the transportation system uncontrollable but hopefully, we should be able to incentivize the private bus owners and implement our Talking Destination solution in every transport that runs throughout the country.

Photo of Tenna Pedersen
Team

Say... Rabin talks about changing the culture. Maybe a simple low key solutions could be that is a special area in the bus is for disabled people OR people making themselves available for helping disabled. Hopefully this could build a helping community.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Tenna for the valuable feedback :)
We do believe that there is a serious need of cultural/behavioral change. We also have a system where the seat is allocated to people with disabilities but people tend to ignore the sign and just occupy the seats (and doesn't even care if there are any people with disabilities around).
Hence, we also want to change this culture through our technology.
I would like to repeat the same example that I wrote in one other comment which is:
For an example:
Current Scenario, people tend to ignore the disabled reserved seats in public transit and just occupy their seats without any hesitation. They just don't care.
The Scenario that we want to bring through this solution would be: When a visually impaired person boards a bus, the beacon device detects his/her mobile phone and it will constantly give notification about the reservation seat. The people (who occupied the reserved seat) will now hesitate to ignore the audible notification and will offer the seat to visually impaired person.
What do you think? :)

Photo of Tenna Pedersen
Team

Hi Sonika,

Thanks for your response. I see what you mean (and I wish I could draw a little drawing and attach the comment). But I still think, the culture changing is an important part of the solution (Need: From ignoring disabled to engaging with and helping disabled): My idea is to have a marked (standing) area in the bus, where you can stand, if you want to help a diabled person OR you are a disabled person who needs help - it has to be very clear with signs or pictograms, that if you stand here, its because you want to help. In that way its hard to say no, if a diabled person asks for your help there.
In that way you can start building a community of culture changers - not just inside the busses, but outside aswell. Make a communication campaign that supports this need - a campaign that engages people. In Denmark we have a bureau called Kadaver (=corpse...) and they worked with the Copenhagen busses to make a bustrip a better experience - check them out: http://kadaver.dk/cases/arriva-danmark-bedre-bustur/ (sorry its in Danish - but there is pictures and a video:)).
Im not suggesting that it should be either tech or low tec - Im suggesting that you consider using both solutions. So my advise would be: Find a creative (and experienced engager) communications person to team up with.

Good wind with the project!:)

/Tenna

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Tenna for sharing your feedback with us and with the website I could understand what you meant. Hopefully, we will reach up to that level where people's culture changes from ignoring to helping, indeed. We look forward to planning such campaign here in Nepal.
Thank you again :)

Photo of Jessie Zhang
Team

This is actually a very promising idea to me. It's not only assisting visually impaired person, but it could also be applied to gather data and build solution for more efficient transportation system.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Jessie for the feedback. :)
And could not agree more with what you said about using data that's collected through it to improve the system.

Photo of Jeanne Rank
Team

Good idea. However, it seems that you may have chosen the solution before diving in investigating different ideas. It could be interesting to investigate solutions concerning cultural change - given he talks about this in the video.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Jeanne for the feedback. And yes, cultural or behavioral change of people is a must to do the thing which will need advocacy. We see a brilliant opportunity to advocate the issue with this very solution.
For an example:
Current Scenario, people tend to ignore the disabled reserved seats in public transit and just occupy their seats without any hesitation. They just don't care.
The Scenario that we want to bring through this solution would be: When a visually impaired person boards a bus, the beacon device detects his/her mobile phone and it will constantly give notification about the reservation seat. The people (who occupied the reserved seat) will now hesitate to ignore the audible notification and will offer the seat to visually impaired person.
What do you think? :)

Photo of Andreea Gavrilovici
Team

This is a salutary initiative and it's great that it focuses on improving the life of visually impaired people in environments that are difficult for them, and also in places which are not customised for them.

It's useful that Gantabya supports visually impaired people be independent in their daily life, that it helps them not have to depend on someone else. I believe this is empowering.

At the same time, I have doubts about the technology used and the costs + difficulty of implementing the solution. Considering that 3 beacons need to be installed on each bus: how much would that cost and who would pay for it? Also, if the percentage of visually impaired people is 0.36% - would this make sense as an investment in public transport? I mean by no means that this percentage is not significant enough - but rather that maybe this would be a challenge in raising funds for implementation from the public/private sector.

I am wondering if there is a mobile app-based solution that would not require extra devices installed on buses/buildings? For example reaching the destination or the bus stop could be notified based on the a customised GPS-based solution. And maybe the arrival of the bus could be detected through some kind of ultrasonic sensors that can recognize the shape/type of vehicle (somehow like bats do)?

I'm not an expert in this but hope it helps.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Andreea for the valuable feedbacks. :)
We definitely also see the challenges that come forth during the implementation phase of this project. However, we also see the opportunity within the challenge. Opportunity to not only make this as something that's limited to visually impaired people but also to all. The real-time bus location tracking would indeed help people get real-time information on where the bus is.
And using beacon will only add more value to the whole system with notifying proximity sensors as cheaper as USD 25 each with years of life. We want to test the system in different routes that Sajha Yatayat uses in Kathmandu first to be able to show the viability of the product and then will contact the associations of private bus owners to be able to implement this as a packaged product.

Photo of Samant Manandhar
Team

Public Transportation in Nepal usually employ conductors to tell people of its route, but in super busy locations like Sundhara, it may be possible that the visually impaired people may miss the bus. So, a proximity detection technology will definitely help.

I think implementation of this would very much be feasible. Step 1 - once your pilot with Sajha Yatayaat will be completed, you would have results and statistics to show the true value of your application. With that, you can talk to the policy makers to make policies around it so that the bus owners would have the beacon installed on their own expense. All government needs to do is a means of checking and monitoring that the devices have been installed, and that can be done by traffic officers using their mobile. Looks very feasible. To have the installation, it seems like the money the bus drives have to spend would be around NRS 3,000. Doesn't seem like it would have a big pushback from private driving companies either..

And about implementing it in the hospitals, probably it would be a good idea to engage college students into doing that with collaboration with the hospitals. They will have your pilot project as a baseline, and your team can serve as mentors too. This way, the implementation can expand quickly, and hospitals probably won't have problems with it since this probably doesn't have to be integrated to their IT infrastructure to pose any data security issues.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Samant for you have studied about the project and it's different aspect so thoroughly. Likewise, I am sure that this will change how visually impaired people perceives public transportation system. :)

Photo of willie
Team

Pretty amazing project. I hope it could be implemented soon. Could actually be a great example for the western world, too! Way to go!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Willie :)

Photo of Alyna Shrestha
Team

It's really a great idea. People like you makes our country a better place to live. ��

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Alina :)

Photo of Ashim
Team

Great initiative Sonika! This is a giant step towards making a social infrastructure reform in Nepal's context. A great opportunity for visually impaired to experience full navigational independence. Kudos to your team!! Few questions:
a) Is there a way to monitor reserved seats before notifications are sent out? Say, if these seats are taken for a stop. Also, brings into factor ETA for the next bus - real time traffic updates.
b) Anything required on client's cellular device to receive signal? Minimum Bluetooth version, lets say.
c) Any possibilities to partner with cellular service providers to waive off cellular data that come at the expense of using your application?
d) In your testing phase, you mention "small tests with prospective users." Any other voice assisted technology these users have used, or are familiar to? How did these users navigate otherwise? How was the feedback from your test users?

Once again, a big thanks to your team for taking this initiative. A pioneer project in making for Nepal's context. Keep at it!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Ashim for appreciating the idea.
Here are the answers to your queries:
a) We definitely can detect and monitor whether the seat is occupied or not via a sensor that senses the weight. Real-time traffic information is another good opportunity that will facilitate not only visually impaired individuals but anyone who uses public transport. However, I see a challenge of having a constant data connection for live feeds which takes me to query no. (c).
b) We want to leverage proximity sensors for this project hence Bluetooth is required (Mobile Devices with Bluetooth 4.0+ version)
c) We have divided the project into different phases. As per our plan, we want to conduct the first phase which is to notify users about bus arrival and its details and also about the reservation seat location. Next phase would be to give real-time information on the bus. Phase II will need an internet service where we need to look for partnership with ISP.
d) On the day of International Day of People with Disabilities, we tested our prototype with a group of around 100 visually impaired friends. We installed the application on their smartphone and were able to produce the sample of the audio output reading out the information of the bus that arrived the station. The feedback that we received from this group was indeed very encouragingly positive. And regarding the voice-assisted technology, most of the user uses the inbuilt talk-back feature of smartphones, each platforms having their own inbuilt talk back feature.
Thank you again for the very good feedback :) Keep following our updates.

Photo of Sagina
Team

I didn't know about the main purpose of the yellow Lane which are meant to guide visually impaired people till I saw the post by Sonika dee in fb.
In the city where awareness lacks and ignorance is a rooted habit of most of us , it's amazing to see Gwahali focusing on the serious issue which been ignored by govrenment. It's great to see the team who is Standing for differently able people to support them, to make them independent , to make them strong inside and out.
It's a great initiative that Gwahali has taken. Wish this project get all the support and bring amazing result.
# I support Gwahali.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Sagina for the support :)

Photo of Ankit
Team

Sonika dee does think differently and has that strong determination to prosper what's there for people who are different but has this different abilities that will make them one of us in nation's development. Gwahali is great step that she has taken to provide love and knowledge to people with differently able people. She is trying to reach out to every individual in her remarkable initiation and know that people are different in their own kind. I wish her all the Kudos to her innovative project she has been working on and more success in coming future. Dee, Keep on inspiring your Gantabya is not that far :-) #GWAHALI #GreatInitiation

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Ankit for kind words. :)

Photo of Aakankshya Gc
Team

It is definitely an awesome idea. :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank You, Aakankshya Jee :)

Photo of Akita Nakarmi
Team

It's very innovative idea and will be happy to see this change in kathmandu. We support u Sonika di ����

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Akita <3

Photo of Anirudh Sah
Team

This is excellent idea to be implemented here in Nepal. Sonika Manandhar and team are a great team working for mobility of the most vulnerable and marginalized population in the country. At the time when road and other infrastructure for visually impaired are at the worst, implementation of this idea would set an example in other sector and engrave the path for such interventions. In country like Nepal, this is certainly going to change their daily lives as they would hassle free for daily commute. I wish the team good luck for this endeavour.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Anirudh Sir. We look forward to continuous support during implementation :)

Photo of Shoojan Mhrzn
Team

Nepal really does have a busy street roads, specially Kathmandu. A normal person finds it difficult to catch a local bus in a busy crowd. I wonder how a visually impaired person might feel. Currently reviewing the whole idea, I am much excited to see this idea being implemented in every corners of the road. ^_^
But, using gps n bluetooth continuously may drain battery quickly, so i recommend if the app notifies the user regarding battery issues as well

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you for the feedback Sujan. We will definitely think about the ways to make the app and battery usage as light as possible. :)

Photo of Vineeta Chaudhary
Team

This is such a unique idea which will help people with visual disabilities to be independent and move freely with ease.All the best sonika ji and hope this idea gets implemented soon.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Vineeta Jee. :)

Photo of Shradheya Tuladhar
Team

Very happy to see some great innovative ideas to help the people with the disability, hope to see it in action very soon. I wish Sonika didi and the Gwahali team all the very best of luck to make this project a success.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Shradheya :)

Photo of Prabodh Tuladhar
Team

This really is a great idea and an innovative way to help the people with disability. I wish all the very best to Sonika didi and the whole of the Gwahali team. May this idea speedily be implemented so that the people could reap its benefits quicker.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Prabodh :)

Photo of Bikeshm Maharjan
Team

Very much inspired by what you are trying to achieve. If this could be achieved and executed to targeted groups, it will not only make their daily life easier but the happiness and growth of self esteem that they will have by being able to do something by themselves. This could be the one change that may be the cause for the flood of many and beyond in the similar way.
My best wishes to Gwahali and entire team. :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Bikesh. :)

Photo of Niroj Mrjn
Team

Good Initiative, Best of Luck.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Niroj Jee :)

Photo of Aayush GC Bhujel
Team

I, along with my team have worked with some of the visually impaired people while making the documentary "Ma Hidney Baato". And we were all impressed by how capable and happy they were. But we have also seen them struggle while doing so many things. The busy streets of cities are not a friendly place for visually impaired people. Our lives compared to theirs, is a blessing. But they always had a smile on their faces. Looking at the hardship that they have to face, I believe this idea is going to change how they move around the cities. This will definitely help them a lot. I have seen them work. I have seen them working tirelessly for the welfare of visually impaired people and I am glad that they came of with this idea to provide them a helping hand (more like helping voice) to get through. You have my absolute support.
All the very best. I hope we can soon see this in effect.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Aayush for the dedication that you and whole team showed during the making of the documentary. The documentary was indeed an example of much-needed advocacy for the issue. We really look forward to the support during the implementation of Gantabya as well. :) Cheers!

Photo of Himanshu Joshi
Team

The hardships that visually impaired people face in Nepal is painful to think of because most of the infrastructures are not designed as impaired-friendly. I am so delighted to see this project because of the noble impact it will have upon the visually impaired community and I have immense trust and faith in Sonika, for all the works she has been doing via her organization - Gwahali. Good luck Sonika! Your work is like a light at the end of a tunnel - it gives us hope!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you for the appreciative words Himanshu. :)
You have been living in the international high-tech cities, maybe we might want to use your daily life experiences there to somehow replicate the same here in Nepal. :)

Photo of Gaurav Manandhar
Team

I have my full support and urge you to have it at our messy, crowded city. Thank you Sonika for this idea.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Gaurav Dai. If we have support from people like you, we will surely move ahead. :)

Photo of Nuraj Rajbhandari
Team

Looking forward for such change.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you. Let us all support this to make this happen in Nepal :)

Photo of Nuraj Rajbhandari
Team

We have to make this happen. Excited :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

We must make this happen. Super excited :)

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Sonika Manandhar thanks for contributing to the Challenge!

Couple quick questions, who are you/or who do you need to partner with to make this idea happen? What's your biggest roadblock to implementation currently?

Excited to learn more about the work you are doing!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Hi Ashley Tillman 
Thank you for taking your time out to read our article.
We are a group of technology enthusiast (founders of Gwahali) working towards the benefit of people with disabilities, we are more focused on supporting visually impaired people, providing them tools that will ease the daily living. We ideate technological solutions to help remove barriers for visually impaired people. We have been active in the areas of digital literacy and examination system for visually impaired students through the computer, providing scribe to visually impaired students, creating audio books for easy access to curriculum and also have been researching on how to localize the content generated from automated image to text or audio.
Nepal's public mass transportation system, unfortunately, has not been an easy cake for anyone who uses it, the hassle we go through during peak hours is another story. In such a messed up system, how a visually impaired person navigates around is a big challenge. This we want to solve through our solution.
To turn this idea into reality, we need to partner with public mass transport system like Sajha Yatayat and also with the private bus owners. Implementing this solution in Sajha Yatayat is much easier as compared to the private buses hence this will be very strategic for us. We might as well think of incentive system for both solution users and private bus owners to be able to implement the solution.

Photo of Manish Aryal
Team

Really impressed with you work so far and best of luck for you idea implementation !!!
its a wonderful idea, may be we can collaborate in future

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Manish for appreciating our work. And we look forward to collaborating with you in any means possible.

Photo of Fadila Lagadien
Team

A very good idea - good luck with it.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Fadila :)

Photo of Mandira Adhikari
Team

I loved the idea!! Truckful of wishes for the team to turn this into reality.. :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thanks, Mandira :) We will indeed turn this into reality.

Photo of Richa Bhattarai
Team

I have actually seen Gwahali in action and really appreciate how it has changed the lives of differently abled children and adults. The idea presented above by Gwahali is a wonderful one, and needs all the support it can get. It would make so much of a difference to the visually impaired in Nepal, who really need to struggle for their mobility and transport. Good luck Sonika, the very idea is very inspiring !

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Richa Jee for kind words and appreciative feedbacks. We surely need to make this happen :)

Photo of Keshav Ghimire
Team

This will change their way of life for people with disabilities.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Yes, it will indeed. Let us all work together to make this happen in Nepal :)

Photo of Keshav Ghimire
Team

Sure. We are in dire need for such change. Innovative way of living in this era of technology.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Yes, when we add tech with living for social good, it always adds value.

Photo of Ritu Giri
Team

I support this initiation for such noble cause.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Ritu :)
I know that we will make this happen!

Photo of Ritu Giri
Team

Of course we will. And I hope everyone will support us through this journey.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Yes, everyone will join hand for good. :)

Photo of Ananda Maharjan
Team

Great initiative with innovative idea. Looking forward for implementation. Best Wishes Sonika Manandhar 

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Ananda Jee :)

Photo of Suja Manandhar
Team

A much needed effort for the independent mobility of the visually impaired. If worked out and implemented as planned, surely will empower the differently-abled. Using the technology for all the right reasons! Cheers Sonika Manandhar  di! :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Suja. We hope to move forward with continous support from people like you. :)

Photo of सौजन्य श्रेष्ठ
Team

Great idea, Best of luck ^_^

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Saujanya :)

Photo of Ying Kong
Team

Amazing idea! We've been talking about beacon technology in class, but mostly about increasing sales for stores. This idea combines existing technology with public welfare, which is very creative and unique.

I see there is an challenge on convincing private bus owners, but there might be ways to incentivize them besides the inspiration of helping visually impaired people. For instance, coupons also for bus owners, depends on how many devices sensed by their bus? Also, are there possibilities to get government/corporate funds?

All in all, great idea! Keep working on it and it'll make great impact!

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thanks Ying for the appreciative words, feedback and suggestions. I like what you said about incentivizing the bus owner themselves. This might give us a little push forward during implementation. :)

Photo of Irina Sthapit
Team

The idea is amazing. To make visually impaired people independent in busy streets is in itself a great concept.
Of course there are many challenges before this project becomes reality. But with your effort and determination, I am sure this will soon be a major thing in near future.
Good luck Sonika di :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Irina :)
We are very hopeful about the implementation too.

Photo of Ojash Dahal
Team

Once again another great initiative by leveraging right tools to create a self-sustaining environment for visually impaired people. Hope to see it in action soon, best wishes.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thanks, Ojash. We will do our best to make this idea turn into reality :)

Photo of Sea Ay-cxi
Team

Good :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you :)

Photo of Rachhek Shrestha
Team

It will be a first of its kind initiative in Nepal. Good luck :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Rachhek. During research, we found similar projects in other country but this certainly will be the first one in Nepal. :)

Photo of amir gc
Team

Great initiative. Love the idea. This will really be a game changer innovation.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thanks Amir for appreciation. We really hope to make this happen :)

Photo of Rosy Giri
Team

Great concept Sonika Manandhar . Hope this will have some impact to make lives better.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Rosy Jee. :)

Photo of Yasmine Shrestha
Team

Awesome initiative . All the best ❤❤

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Yasmine <3

Photo of Miya Ko
Team

Technology for human welfare.. Great initiation Sonika Manandhar  d :) Always there for your support..

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you, Shreeya for the support. :)

Photo of Samikshya Maharjan
Team

Wow, this sounds to be so helpful to those differently abled people go freely walk by themselves around without lot of trouble.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you for the feedback Samikshya :)

Photo of Saurav Thapa Shrestha
Team

I am in support for this cause. :)

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Saurav :)

Photo of Asheem Manandhar
Team

Great iniatiation ! All the best wishes from my side.

Photo of Nairisha Shrestha
Team

Sonika Manandhar  a noble initiation. Count me in in your cause for any support I can provide.

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Thank you Nairisha. I know you will be there :)

Photo of Kieran Hanrahan
Team

Suggest you look at Wayfindr in the UK which is seeking to do similar and has trials running in London and potentially in Sydney (?) - they have started to standardise the technology needed to deliver the service. 

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

Hi Kieran,
Thank you for your feedback. We came across Wayfindr while researching about what's existing in the market. We want to make it available in Nepal locally, also to be able to localize in the Nepali Language to ease people who do not understand English. But we will surely look for opportunities to have the standardized system followed in our solution as well.

Photo of Kieran Hanrahan
Team

Their focus has been on standardising the communications channels and they have done this through the ITU, so there is a technical whitepaper coming out.  Any solution you design should match this...

Photo of Sonika Manandhar
Team

I see.
I will definitely look into the technical white paper when it's out. Thank you for the information. Much appreciated.