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Design Researcher & Strategist
"Be the change you want to see in this world..."
I am an Industrial Designer and Architect based in Delhi, India. My forte lies in designing products for emerging markets. As a part of my role at LG, I get the opportunity to travel across the country and return with insights and ideas for our projects.
Hi Chioma, Thank you for the link to these wonderful resources. They will surely come in handy, as we go onto build prototypes and the lean version of the SEWA app. Once we have a tangible prototype of the app, it would be a great idea to engage with other participants in the challenge for feedback. It will enrich the design and help us attune it for a larger audience.
Going forward, we will approach this SEWA project in 3 broad phases. After reaching each milestone, we would like to reach out for following type of mentorship:
Phase 1 ( 1 month): • In partnership with a local NGO, we will introduce the concept of a public bulletin board at a slum cluster in the form of a black board. • It will be updated on a daily basis, collating information from various sources. This will help us evaluate which types of information are most relevant to the community. • Alongside, a lean, basic version of the app will be created in Hindi & English. We would be grateful if your experts could give feedback on this app prototype before we test it in the field.
Phase 2 ( 1 month): • The first version of the app will be introduced at the same slum cluster as the blackboard. A local community member will be hired, to assist residents in downloading and using the app. • The phone number of this local SEWA leader will be circulated, in case residents need support in posting information. • For those residents without smartphones, we will add them to a SMS messaging list. We will be sending them daily notifications in the form of messages. • Alongside, We will reach out to NGOs in other parts of the country/ world, to test this app out in their context and focus areas. • At the end of one month, we would like to evaluate the results with your experts. This would enable us to make crucial decisions regarding the specification of the full, complete version of the app. Technologies like the 'off the grid' bluetooth network and multiple language support will be both time and resource intensive. With your guidance, we will finalize the design and engineering brief of the app.
Phase 3 ( 1.5 months): • The complete version of the app will be prepared and a soft launch of the app will be done at 3 locations across the country. • We will hire and train 2 people ( 1 man, 1 woman) at each location, to be our ambassadors within the community. They will also function as the moderators for the online SEWA bulletin board. • After testing the app at these 3 locations, we will share feedback that we have received from the communities. We will seek advice from our mentors on how we can amplify and scale this model, to make it relevant for communities across the world.
In our research, we discovered that there is no existing, formal platform to disseminate information about basic services. Most of it is spread through organically through word-of-mouth ( water, electricity), small posters ( health camps), middlemen ( jobs, shelter), etc... As a result, updates often does not reach those, who need it the most. Thus, we recognized the need for a system of spreading local news and information outreach.
We envision SEWA as an all-encompassing bulletin board for the neighborhood. Initially, we plan to introduce it in the form of a black-board near the entrance of the slum cluster. Community leaders can write notices with chalk. Alongside, the SEWA app will be promoted and we will assist residents download and try out the app on the phone.
The reason for adopting an app based approach is that India, is about to reach 1 billion mobile phone subscribers by next year. It is transforming the way Indians connect and network. Yet, there are very few applications which address the local issues that we face. SEWA does not cater to only those who own swanky smartphones or those who can afford mobile data connections. Even users of basic feature phones, can subscribe to the service through SMS technology, and those without internet can get notices using 'off-the grid' Bluetooth network.
Over the past few weeks, I have been recruiting a team of volunteers who will assist in bringing this idea to life. We have approached app developers in Delhi who have the ability to build this app and underlying technology from scratch. I will be taking care of the UI/UX component of the app. We are in talks with a local NGO, who will support us in conducting a trial run at a nearby slum cluster.
If we are successful in this challenge, we plan to quickly build a lean, beta version of the app ( Phase 1) for a trial run in Delhi. We will also take support of the friends we have made on the OpenIdeo forum, to test this app in their context and countries. Then, we will incorporate the feedback received from the trial runs to make a revised app with full functionality (Phase 2). We would be grateful if your experts could periodically mentor us as we cross each stage.