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Voice Box

A website for urban slum communities to voice their biggest problems in a "Quora"-like forum, so the best solutions can put forward.

Photo of Charles Thomas
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Bill Gates notes, "The history of philanthropy is littered with well-intentioned inventions that never deliver on their promise." We are trying to eliminate philanthropic failures which stem from misunderstanding the real problems from half a globe away of the community we are trying to help. We propose an online forum to provide a better, firsthand review of the situation in voice, text and photos, which should result in more efficacious human centered, design solutions. Like the "Wiki-Slum" proposition submitted, it would use "Google Translate" and voice-to-text messaging so that people can contribute their unique community problems and ideas despite language barriers. It would also help us put our focus on the most pressing problems first, based on a more comprehensive global overview. We are trying to reduce wasted time (and money) trying to help people due to misguided actions. The site is accessed by anyone with a wifi-enabled device. The solutions would be supported by a "kickstarter"-like funding program.

WHO BENEFITS?

The people in the community with the problems will benefit with both verbal answers to their issues/queries and crowd -funded, built solutions (such as water filter systems, building materials or medical supplies). It needs to be implemented in various slum communities in a way which will provide a cross fertilization of solutions.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

This idea connects with other ideas from "Shoutbox" and "Wiki Slum". Its time has come, based on the growth of Slum community phone use:"Open Slum" notes that research shows a high penetration of mobile phones in Slum areas - 34% of the Slum community has access to toilets, but 63% owns a mobile phone. I love that fact, as the mobile phone democratises information access, removing all race, creed or gender in the process. The flexibility and resilience of a phone is amazing, because if one phone goes dead, there is a whole web of neighbours phones to access the same information. You are truly maximizing limited resources by using existing equipment and the system is complete, providing connection to everyone, including governments, civil society and city residents. The system can also expand to include a weather information network identifying all Climate Change factors such as landslides, mudslides, floods and other sharp changes in seasonal wind and temperature through a program similar to the one put forward by "Alert and Connect" using IoT technology around the island for the most accurate sensory inputs (see: thethingsnetwork.org).

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Not yet

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am an Architect-trained problem solver, who has spent the last 30 years in think-tank environments around the globe, building unique large-scaled projects with a team of fun, hardworking kindred spirits. I have yet to work in a third world country.

5 comments

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Spam
Photo of Sarah Basemera
Team

I love the idea, thanks for the contribution Charles.

Spam
Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Love the Bill Gates quote Charles! Great provocation on the importance of understanding the problem from the point of view of the people that we're designing for. Have you come across examples of how this idea has been piloted in the field? Here are two analogous cases that you might be curious to check out:

100 Cameras: http://100cameras.org/model/
Voice Box: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/voice-an-international-media-project-for-women

Spam
Photo of Charles Thomas
Team

Thanks Shane,
Not sure if I wanted to add the 100 Cameras idea to this concept just yet, but I thought it is a good idea to add photos to this documentation system. I also noted that the phone is an amazing device as sent information knows no gender. You made me wonder though, how many of the phones in a Slum community are accessible by women? I have no examples of how this idea has been piloted in the field, but I like the pilot project done by (http://thethingsnetwork.org) in Amsterdam and feel that it may be quite transferable in a Slum.
Charlie
Charlie

Spam
Photo of Simon Robins
Team

Hi Charles,
A great concept and definitely in line with my thinking on giving voice to an unheard communities.
What solution were you thinking about for the translation of the forum for international participants, or were you thinking the forum would be only accessible domestically?
Also, would there be provision made for community members who aren't literate? Obviously these people wouldn't be able to participate in a text chat based forum, but in some communities there may be a significant proportion of people who can't read & write.

Simon

Spam
Photo of Charles Thomas
Team

Thanks for the input Simon - I have updated the proposal to include Google Translate and voice to text based on some ideas outlined in "Wiki Slum".