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KiwiPrints(TM): A biometric solution for measuring and maximizing global development impact

Monitoring and evaluation efforts in international aid focus on inputs (e.g., number of vaccines delivered) rather than outcomes or impact (e.g., individual children receiving 5 of 10 vaccines). Collecting individual identifying information runs confidentiality risks, and few countries provide children with unique numerical identifiers at birth. RTI International has been exploring an impact tracking system (KiwiPrints(TM)) using mobile biometric (fingerprint) scanner connected to an application on an Android device, synced to a remote encrypted database, with the goal of directly tracking the services received through early childhood, and ultimately linking these inputs to individual-level outcomes such as school performance.

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The KiwiPrints(TM) concept calls for service providers, such as community health workers, childcare providers and teachers who provide interventions to children, to be equipped with devices with the KiwiPrints(TM) application and the fingerprint scanner. Service providers would use it to register infants and to record all services provided through the child’s early years.

Each time a service is provided, the child’s identity would be verified against the system records, and the nature, dosage and timing of the service is recorded in a secure database.  Later, the information would be linked to outcomes in early grade reading and math assessments conducted on RTI’s Tangerine® software to explore the impact of services on learning outcomes.

The child’s fingerprint would be the unique identifier for their record which would link various interventions (vaccines, deworming, early childhood education, etc.) throughout the first years of life and beyond.
Community coverage rates would be aggregated and compared to census data to inform service providers about coverage rates. To increase the confidence and safety of the data, no personally identifiable information would be collected.

KiwiPrints(TM) uses Android tablets or phones, and has worked to ensure that the application will be open source, to keep costs as low as possible. Lower cost but accurate fingerprint scanners will be used.
Questions for the community include:
  • How can we capture the maximum number of services provided?
  • How can we work to ensure broad use of KiwiPrints(TM)?

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Most importantly, KiwiPrints(TM) will benefit individual children, who, despite international aid efforts, are still falling through the cracks, and due to systematic challenges are not receiving all of the essential interventions needed in their early years. Additionally, donors, implementers, as well as host country national and local governments would benefit from the ability to track their work at the individual level. Rather than showing 10,000 vaccines have been delivered, they will be able to see that those 10,000 vaccines have been administered to 10,000 different individuals. Additionally, we envision that KiwiPrints(TM) will improve donor coordination, as the system will show where individuals are being reached, so that limited resources can be better allocated. Ideally, there would be broad uptake and use of KiwiPrints(TM) by donors, implementers and governments. This widespread use of KiwiPrints(TM) is necessary for the system

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

RTI International has been exploring the feasibility of KiwiPrints(TM) through a research and initial testing phase for the past year, and so far the tool has passed all of our internal tests for viability, reliability and feasibility. . However, the system needs to be tested in developing countries, and tested with young children. The following activities could be conducted right now to help take KiwiPrints(TM) to its next phase: (1) Expand the population of users. We would be open to accepting volunteer programs and service providers to test the system with their own tablets (we could provide the scanners) to verify the reliability of the tool and provide feedback about its usability. (2) Gather feedback and comments from the community; expand the user base even more. We would welcome suggestions on how to obtain feedback from users to improve functionality. What is the best way to gather and interpret this feedback? How can we build a community of users/service providers? What are the barriers to expansion? Gaining feedback on these issues from a broader group of critical friends would be very useful, but we would welcome lessons and suggestions on how best to do this (since the coder/programmer community does not always speak the same language as the service provider community). (3) Host a hackathon to expand functionality. We would welcome suggestions on how to work with an expanded pool of programmers, partnered with service providers to make this open source tool even more useful for communities. How can we best partner with the socially minded coder community and link them up to the service provider community?

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

The KiwiPrints(TM) team is seeking support with open source efforts and developing an interested community of users. We are also looking to gather feedback from aid implementers, host country governments and those in the communities on the approach and design. We would welcome expert advice from those familiar with roll-out and expansion of a user base for open source software in particular. While we have some experience with this from Tangerine(R) (now with 21 organizations and more than 500,000 cases recorded) we believe our approach would benefit from more professional assistance in this domain.

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