Tag Archives: Apps

Keep It Simple, Sanitation – experiences of app development

Keep It Simple, Sanitation – experiences of app development, by Rosie Renouf, Research Officer, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). WASHfunders blog, July 25, 2019.

Going to the toilet hasn’t changed much over the last few millennia and the nuts and bolts of the biological side of it are unlikely to change anytime soon. What has changed over the last 20 years of so, though, is our ability to collect reams of information about where we go to the loo, what we do when we get there, and what happens afterwards. Tools like Shit Flow Diagrams give a clear picture of where human waste goes, while organisations like mWater or Gather are pioneering ways of sharing real-time data about WASH. washfunders

While the act of going to the toilet hasn’t changed, removing waste safely is getting much more complex as urbanisation pushes more people closer together. WSUP works in crowded, low-income areas that lack adequate water or sanitation, and we recognise that information about residents and the services they can access is needed as much as infrastructure – perhaps even more so.

This blog shares our experience of developing a mobile phone application for the people who work in sanitation in those cities: the business owners who own the tankers that travel across the city emptying full pit latrines and septic tanks, and the employees who drive and operate them. Our main recommendation: keep it simple!

Tech and toilets

The FSM5 conference held in Cape Town earlier this year showcased a wealth of examples of data being captured, analysed and used to improve urban sanitation services around the world. For example, Sanergy, the container-based sanitation company operating in Nairobi, explored using sensors in their Fresh Life Toilets to record use and estimate toilet fill level as a way of improving waste collection.

In two cities in Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme is tracking and scheduling regular desludging online, with households automatically scheduled for a vacuum tanker visit based on the date that their facility was last emptied. They have also developed an app that monitors urban local bodies’ progress in improving septage management.

The overarching aim isn’t to produce something shiny or to reinvent the wheel – it’s to help sanitation service providers do their jobs and to ensure that as many people as possible can access safe sanitation services. So the real question is: how do we not only collect data but how can it be made useful to those who need it?

Read the complete article.

How to … design a sanitation app

How to … design a sanitation app | Source:  The Guardian, March 22, 2013 |
Trémolet Consulting won the London leg of the 2012 Sanitation Hackathon. The team explain how to take your mobile app idea from concept to creation

As we write this, we’re contemplating the prospect of a trip to the Silicon Valley to meet potential investors for a mobile phone application (app) we’ve designed. The app aims to help answer one of the biggest unresolved questions for understanding sanitation markets in developing countries: how much do households invest in their own sanitation facilities?

How do you design an app that can find out how much households invest in water and sanitation? Photograph: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

How do you design an app that can find out how much households invest in water and sanitation? Photograph: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

It all started when we submitted a problem statement at the London leg of the Sanitation Hackathon, an event that took place simultaneously in 14 cities around the world in early December 2012. Hackathons are increasingly used by international agencies or governments to get computer programmers and app developers applying their creative brains to solve a social issue. The “watsan” (water and sanitation) hackathon dates back to 2011 when the World Bank organised the firstwater hackathon. Since then, mobile phone apps have made their mark in the water sector, particularly for water point mapping.

The idea we submitted to the hackathon stemmed from what we’ve observed as a lack of data on households’ investment and recurrent expenditure on latrines, despite the fact that they often represent a major proportion of total investment in the sanitation sector. It is critical to understand how much households are investing, and in what, in order to design appropriate policies and programmes to support them. We seized the opportunity of the London sanitation hackathon to see whether that app (a computer programme connected to the internet that runs on smartphones and other mobile devices), now known as ‘SIT’ (Sanitation Investment Tracker) had the potential to make a significant contribution to the way sanitation programmes are designed, run and monitored.

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Top 10 Finalists of the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge announced

SanAppChallengeOn World WaterDay, 22 March, the World Bank announced the Top 10 Finalists of the Sanitation Hackathon App Challenge. The challenge is a follow-up to the Sanitation Hackathon, which attracted over 1,100 developers in December 2012 to solve sanitation problems.

The Top 10 Finalists apps are:

  • Empowering Girls monitors girls’ school attendance to track appropriate sanitation facilities.
  • LION Sync provides decision-makers with access to real-time data online and offline.
  • LooRewards promotes sanitary behavior by rewarding safe sanitation practices.
  • mSchool monitors the status of water and sanitation infrastructure in schools.
  • mSewage crowdsources the identification of open defecation sites and sewage outflows.
  • San-Trac reminds users about hygienic practices and gathers real-time data for trend analysis (winner of the People’s Choice Award)
  • Sanitation Investment Tracker tracks investment and expenditure in sanitation at the household level.
  • SunClean teaches sanitary and hygienic behavior through games for children.
  • Taarifa enables citizen reporting and tracks decision-makers’ feedback.
  • Toilight finds toilets in a smart and easy way.

For more information on the apps click on the video links above or go here.

The Grand Prize Award winners will be announced on April 19, on the eve of the World Bank’s Spring Meetings.

Source: SanHack Team, SanitationHackathon.org, 22 Mar 2013