Hacking Toilets?!!! (sanitation hackathon, sanitation-related Apps for Smartphones)
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TOPIC: Hacking Toilets?!!! (sanitation hackathon, sanitation-related Apps for Smartphones)

Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 07 Nov 2012 21:54 #2609

  • steve4real
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Hi Everyone,
It's great to see this discussion is going forward. I have been helping to organize hackathons for the last several years and will be organizing the sanitation hackathon in Toronto. In my experience at RHoK events as well as at the World Bank's Water Hackathon problem definitions are the most important aspect. They set the tone for the weekend and offer the opportunity to work on something that can truly have an impact. In Toronto we will be having a design jam to discuss potential problem definitions in two weeks.

In order for the Sanitation Hackathon to be a success SuSanA should come together and propose a few problem definitions that could be hacked on. David's 'mapthecrap' idea is exactly the type of small scale app that could be developed in a weekend. My idea is to provide a better repository for sanitation sector communication and data sharing.

How can we make sanitation data more effective ? or improve marketing of the sanitation sector to spur investment?

Cheers,

Sanitation Steve
Stephen Sauder, M.Sc., M.A., B.A
Project Manager | Reinvent the Toilet
Centre for Global Engineering, University of Toronto
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Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 08 Nov 2012 17:22 #2613

  • Ulrike
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Dear Steve

I might have an idea for a sanitation hackathon topic: Mobile payment for small-scale (sanitation) businesses and mirco-entrepreneurs.

Let me first explain my project: I’m working at Eawag/ Sandec on the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC)” project. We developed a sanitation system based on a source-separating toilet which is dependent on a logistic service system for feces and urine container removal. Urine and feces are transported to a resource recovery plant where resources are recovered. The sanitation system focuses on informal settlements and the idea is that the toilets (incl. service) can be rent. A sanitation business rents out the toilets, manages the service and runs the resource recovery plant (more: www.diversionsanitation.com)

Although it is not part of the Gates funding we plan to further develop the business model. One aspect we intend to work on is mobile payment for the small weekly rental fees. The advantage is the service person carries no cash which is safer and prevents corruption.

Mobile payment systems already exist e.g. M-Pesa of Safaricom, mobile network operator in Kenya. Originally mobile payment was developed to transfer money between private persons without bank accounts, but there are also other purposes, e.g. mobile bill payment where people can e.g. their electricity bills using their mobile phone.

Some of our students did a study on mobile payment in Kenya and Uganda and found out that so far mobile payment is rarely used for micropayments, as the transaction costs are relatively high for small payments. However, it can be expected that the transaction costs will go down with increasing number of users (and it’s rapidly growing: 58% of Kenya’s population are currently using mobile payments systems).

We think that mobile payment would be useful for any small-scale service business and mirco-entrepreneurs that receives small, regular payments. However, it requires an easy way of keeping track of each customer’s payments. An easy accounting mobile phone app for the service provider would be helpful. From my colleague working with pit emptiers in Burkina Faso I know that accounting skills are very low.

My question to the SuSanA community: Do you also think this could be helpful? Or do you know about existing solutions?
I assume that other sanitation projects with a service concept could be interested in mobile payment, too (thinking of x-runner, UniLoo or Loowatt?).

So far we have not worked on this topic yet. In April/ May 2012 we intend to get in contact with mobile network operators in Uganda (as our toilets will be tested in Kampala) and talk about conditions of mobile bill payment like e.g. how to reduce the transaction costs; what kind of data they provide to track mobile bill payment,...

Steve, you wrote that the “mapthecrap” app is relatively easy to make. Would it be similar with such a mobile payment accounting app?
Regarding the 'mapthecrap' app: Do you know about its development status? I read about it few weeks ago and tried to find it, but wasn’t successful.

Looking forward to your comments.

Kind regards
Ulrike
Ulrike Messmer
Project Officer "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge"
Eawag- Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology
Sandec - Department of Water & Sanitation in Developing Countries
Dübendorf, Switzerland
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Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 08 Nov 2012 17:38 #2614

  • jkeichholz
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Ulrike wrote:
..so far mobile payment is rarely used for micropayments, as the transaction costs are relatively high for small payments. However, it can be expected that the transaction costs will go down with increasing number of users (and it’s rapidly growing: 58% of Kenya’s population are currently using mobile payments systems).


Just a short update on the costs: Vodacom in Tanzania just launched a promo campaign where money can be sent for free. m.allafrica.com/stories/201211070389.html/ Lakini sijui how long this promo campaign will last.

Another option is airtime transfer via USSD code which does not depend on M-Pesa & Co (e.g. user A forwards a balance of 0,50 EUR to user B ). This, however, only works in a few countries due to mobile service providers and their settings on the network.

Ulrike wrote:
My question to the SuSanA community: Do you also think this could be helpful? Or do you know about existing solutions?

There are a lot of free accounting apps already on the market (Google Play / apps store) which would also work with the relatively low screen resolution on entry Android phones (e.g. Huawei Ideos in Kenya), but the challenge would be the costs of these phones (also running costs for data and charging) and also an upload of the data to a central db.

What I'd prefer is a pure sms-based solution to a central number (or Shortcode) that includes a) the number of the recipient and b) the amount and then c) forwards the amount to the recipient and d) writes this payment into a central database. Maybe also with FrontlineSMS Credit: credit.frontlinesms.com/
Juergen Eichholz
watsan eng.
water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org
Last Edit: 08 Nov 2012 17:59 by jkeichholz.

Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 08 Nov 2012 20:46 #2615

  • steve4real
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Hi Ulrike,

It is great to meet you and am excited about your Toilet Design. There is a big opportunity / need to start thinking about mechanisms for payment. The chief challenge of this is that mobile phone networks differ immensely across regions and the adoption of M-pesa like systems is slow. I'll think about it some more but an ideal solution would be one that can exist across mobile networks and was SMS based. I really like FrontlineSMS Credit, it looks like it could provide at least the base for something like this.

In terms of mapthecrap - it is a simple app - but has not been built. David and I had a few discussions about bringing it forward as a problem definition for a few previous RHoK's but that never went anywhere. He has a new idea - and you can learn more at his website : www.ontheseesaw.org

Another very exciting opportunity is to somehow integrate mobile payment system with a tracking function to then be able to see from a research standpoint if sanitation use can be attributed to health improvements.

Let's keep brainstorming,

Cheers,

Steve
Stephen Sauder, M.Sc., M.A., B.A
Project Manager | Reinvent the Toilet
Centre for Global Engineering, University of Toronto
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | Phone 416-400-8831

Toronto (and the World) need SuSanA's Help - to design problem statements that will enhance sanitation worldwide! 15 Nov 2012 18:42 #2648

  • steve4real
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A few threads have been started already about the Toilet Hackathon going on in December 1-2nd. In Toronto we are holding a design Jam next week and it would be great to get the community's feedback and guidance to develop some really great problem definitions.

Some initial problem definitions:

1 - Make micro-payments for sanitation more effective across multiple platforms, perhaps by integrating credit.frontlinesms.com/

2 - Create some sort of mobile health tracking application that would be able to provide concrete evidence that improved sanitation leads to quality of life / health care gains

3 - Improve communication tools like the SuSana forum?

Cheers,

Steve
Stephen Sauder, M.Sc., M.A., B.A
Project Manager | Reinvent the Toilet
Centre for Global Engineering, University of Toronto
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | Phone 416-400-8831
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Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 16 Nov 2012 16:04 #2654

  • Ulrike
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Thanks for your replies and Steve, thanks for the hint at FrontlineSMS Credit.

Someone from FrontlineSMS contacted me. It seems to be what we need.
FrontlineSMS:Credit (credit.frontlinesms.com)is an open-source software which allows for the tracking and scheduling of payments on the M-PESA system. Only a PC and a GSM modem is required, no internet access. Currently they are searching for project partners in Kenya, but intend to extend the service to other countries.

Kind regards,
Ulrike
Ulrike Messmer
Project Officer "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge"
Eawag- Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science & Technology
Sandec - Department of Water & Sanitation in Developing Countries
Dübendorf, Switzerland
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 16 Nov 2012 22:10 #2656

  • Mona
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Hello everyone,

I just found this poster on the Toilet Hackers Facebook page:

56032_553816437965118_2083060636_o.jpg



Will anyone be on the Hackathon in London?

Best,
Mona
MoSan - Mobile Sanitation
is.gd/mobilesanitation

Re: Toronto (and the World) need SuSanA's Help - to design problem statements that will enhance sanitation worldwide! 17 Nov 2012 09:49 #2658

  • madeleine
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Hi Steve

I like Mary Robinson ( e. President Irland member of the The Elders , etc ) rights approach to climate change and science.I think it is also quite connected to SuSanAs role and the discussion forums role
"Climate Justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources. "

This connects nicely to sustainable sanitation and SuSanA role. SuSanA provide knowledge and evidence on the benefits of sustainable sanitation to anyone interested .Sustainable Sanitation is informed by science and we acknowledge the need of equitable stewardsship of resources such as water, nutrients and energy...This is not an official standpoint from SuSanA however I like the way Mary Robinson bring forward the role of providing evidence based information to all and in particular the most vulnerable affected by Climate Change.

I also think it would be really nice if we in the Sanitation sector not only looked at microcredits but started to have a closer look at the role of social cash transfers which are bringing millions of people out of poverty. I really that the cash transfer could get the sanitation marketing going. Most successful cases of sanitation marketing you have in Latin America where Social Cash transfers has been introduced in most countries . For further reading Laura Rawlings from the World Banks overview of conditional social cash transfers ;siteresources.worldbank.org/INTSF/Resour...ings_SF-CCT_Overview
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Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 17 Nov 2012 13:09 #2659

  • JKMakowka
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That frontline sms system sounds very interesting indeed.

Here in Uganda there is a sms based system for notifing hand-pump mechanics developed with the help of Water Aid I think. If one was to develop a micro-payment system for (water &) sanitation enterprises, one should probably keep other potential uses, such as notification, localization and automatic documentation (in the case of the above it is done though a unique hand-pump hardware code) in mind.

Interesting would be probably also some form of sms based crowd-funding for larger projects, e.g. a group of inhabitants that want their drainage channel fixed and cleaned or such. Maybe it could be done by sms-pledges to a certain project code?

Other ideas:
Similar to the hand-pump notification system one could develop a sewer and drainage problem notification system for local sewerage utilities, so that damages are quickly identified and hopefully fixed.
Krischan Makowka
Technical Adviser at the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)
www.uwasnet.org

Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 22 Nov 2012 10:47 #2699

  • muench
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Dear all,
Just a quick reaction to the posting of Steven on 15 November (above) where he wrote:

3 - Improve communication tools like the SuSana forum?


What I would like to see is an App for the SuSanA forum, so that browsing the SuSanA forum for new posts could be fun and convenient with a Smart Phone (including sound alert for new posts on the forum). Is this something that could be proposed for a Hackathon?

But would it mean that the "hacker" would need to have access to the code of the forum, and then what if he or she stuffs up the whole backend of the forum somehow?
Alternative would be to simply pay an IT developer to do this, how much would it cost roughly?

Greetings from sun-less Frankfurt,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
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Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 22 Nov 2012 16:15 #2702

  • steve4real
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We are having a design jam this Saturday November 24th. Probably the biggest challenge with these problem definitions is coming up with one! I suspect maybe we need a hackathon just to get everyone brainstorming...

In my eyes the top contenders so far -

App for the SuSana forum - I think this is the most comprehensive community of sanitation experts from around the world and it would help drive solutions if we could communicate easier?

A universal micro payment app built on the credit.frontlinesms.com/ service (or others)

Finally, a new problem definition I just came across - Toilet Dashboard (toilethackers.org/toilet-dashboard/#comment-63) that will take already available data streams and integrate them like this : citydashboard.org/london/

Cheers,

Steve
Stephen Sauder, M.Sc., M.A., B.A
Project Manager | Reinvent the Toilet
Centre for Global Engineering, University of Toronto
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | Phone 416-400-8831

Re: Hacking Toilets?!!! 22 Nov 2012 16:52 #2705

  • tmsinnovation
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Hi All

A few quick ideas:
  • An app to map public toilets in the world.
  • An app to map missing toilets in the world.
  • An app to map broken toilets in the world.
  • An app to map outstanding toilets in the world.
  • An app that does all of the above.

Would it not be great if when any of us in the SuSanA community were on our travels, in our communities or doing our work, we could quickly and easily make a quick note on the location of any of the above. True crowd-sourcing. The level of detail should initially be kept simple, for ease of entry, but once such an initiative gains momentum the next step of interpreting and using the gathered information could be taken.

Just a little spontaneous brainstorming.

Rgds
Trevor
Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)
Secretariat
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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