Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

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Re: Exploring New Gen Technology for eToilets

Dear Bincy,

I hope your work is progressing well. I just saw this link via the Twitter account of WASHplusinfo (@washplusinfo), which talks about 400 toilets in India called "Delight toilets" with backing by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Is this the same as your project or another one?
If it is not your project, then what do you think of it? How is it similar or different to your work?
Thanks!


The new Delight toilet system, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is posing a solution to the widespread issue.
The toilet will conduct its own maintenance practices. It will also help to conserve electricity and water. It is monitored remotely, so public workers are aware that it is clean.

The scientific company behind the Delight has installed 400 units thus far in India. The Delight varies the amount of water during flushes, depending on how long a user takes. Public workers are aware that it is clean.

The exterior of public restroom allows for 200 square feet of advertising space that funds the toilet's upkeep, along with low usage fees.


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Elisabeth

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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Dear Dr. Elisabeth,

Thank you for your query.

Infact, the Delight eToilet is the same project on which we are working and it is backed by the BMGF. Till date, we have installed over 400 eToilets around various parts of India. The innovative "eToilet" solution involves various product ranges- eToilet Public Model, She Toilet (exclusive for women populace) and eToilet School Model. These toilets have been re-engineered with most modern environment friendly technologies to provide enhanced user experience and accessibility to the users.
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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Hi Bincy,

I was very interested reading about your project, especially given the low per-use cost incurred by the communities that house them. Though this is a very vague question, I was wondering if you'd share some of the challenges you and your team have faced along the way. It'd be interesting to hear about the hurdles you've had to overcome to implement this.


Cheers and keep up the great work!

Kevin

Kevin Shane
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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Hi Kevin,
sure. there were multiple challenges we faced at the field. Some of the most common challenges are
a. Getting the concept of electronics in public toilets among the buyer group was a huge challenge during our initial two years. We had demonstrated the product among different decision makers and authorities and had piloted it for a reasonable time for obtaining user feedback
b. Availability of suitable space for installation. As we started with Kerala, which is the most densely populated state in India, we found that availability of space is the most difficult challenge. Though e-toilet require less than 50 sq. ft. locating and allotting suitable space for installation took longer time tan expected in many of our installations

c. Resistance from local residence. Again due to the high density of population, in some cases, e-toilet initially faced resistance from local shops, residents , with a perception that it will produce bad odour and pollute their surroundings. But in the last 50 installations there were no such instances reported, from which we infer that due to greater awareness about e-toilet and due to its pro-environment functionalities , public resistance is weaning away.

d. Vandalism and theft; There were many incidents where the components of e-toilet like the health faucet, some of the sensors were regularly stolen, very sooner after a fresh replacement. But now such incidents are coming down due to grater awareness of the people and we have anti theft alerts inside the toilets.

Apart from these there were cases of non-availability of electricity or water connection, which caused delay in installation. Now we have obtained priority for obtaining connections since e-toilet being public service infrastructure installed by local authorities for the citizens.

As we progress, we face new challenges and roadblocks, but those have helped us a lot on improvising our product, its functionalities, our business models and our service methodologies.

I am sure you must also be facing similar issues at field. Would like to hear from you on how you tackle those.Our experience sharing would help both of us and other currently working in this sector.

Thank you !
Bincy
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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Hi Bincy!

Oh yes, we can most assuredly relate to these; we've faced the same in varying degrees while working in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Issues A and C are somewhat related in my mind. One aspect of our project that has been both extremely helpful and rewarding has been our community engagement activities. During the initial design process we conducted a lot of user-experience and feedback sessions to gain an understanding of not only how residents used facilities, but also what they wanted to see in a sanitation facility. We then tried our best to incorporate as many of their insights into the architectural designs to further the project's mandate to ensure the facilities we're building aren't just functional, but valued and "wanted". I imagine engagement sessions like these would help familiarize both users and investors while also making them feel like they're "part of the process". Granted, this requires engaging with both user sets early on in the design process. That said, post-design outreach, especially in an educational capacity, would seem beneficial.

Point B is a challenge close to our hearts, unfortunately. We're working in urban slums and face the same spatial constraint challenges. Identifying sites seemed to be just the initial challenge, though, as we also faced an uphill climb when it came to sorting out ownership details. For us, the only option was to curate a list of about 3 times as many sites as we needed to build on and go to the local municipal corporations to verify which ones were viable options for us. Thankfully, both BMC and CMC are partners on the project, which helped in the process, but it still took a great deal of research and site visits before we got a finalized list. I fear there's no other option but to cast a wide net and hope for the best with this!

Point D is also an issue that we had, thankfully, identified early on, during research for the Potty Project (pottyproject.in). This malfeasance was actually a chief concern for us during the design phase. We're fortunate enough to have caretakers at our facilities, and designed their space to ensure maximum visibility in hopes that this will drastically reduce theft and vandalism. I'm not sure what can be done in instances where there is minimal supervision.

Sorry, as I re-read this I realize that I've not given much insight into addressing these challenges other than to say I feel your pain!

Do you have a blog or website for the project? We've been fairly active in documenting our learnings along the way. If you're interested, you can check us out at ProjectSammaan.com.

Keep up the great work!


Kevin

Kevin Shane
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ProjectSammaan.com

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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Hi Kevin,
The doc. potty project was highly informative and insightful. Thank you for that.We could relate to a number of issues you have listed in the document especially w.r.t the design and O&M.

I am also happy to share the link to our websites which provides more details about our project.
www.eramscientific.com , www.delightbharath.com

I have also seen that you are engaging caretakers from the communities for managing the toilets. Recently we have launched an entrepreneur model in public sanitation called eToilet eShop (eTeS ) Project. Here, an entrepreneur from a marginalised community will be provided with an eToilet and an electronically operated Shop in an urban location. There will be part-funding/soft loan by the local body. This ensures that the entrepreneur gets ample income from e-toilet as well as from sale of goods. Considering the plight of street vendors in India, we are trying to link our business model with the street vendor community as well. In Kerala though we are working on a high end model for urban public models, we are exploring how a customised rural entrepreneur model can be implemented with Kudumbasree a strong self-help group movement based in Kerala. A pilot launch was carried out in Kozhikode corporation last week. Pls. see the link below.


www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-scho...e/article4851343.ece

Warm regards
Bincy
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Re: India's First Connected eToilet Infrastructure

Information on the availability of public toilets is quite relevant to serve the citizens. Recognizing the need for providing safe and clean public sanitation amenities and disseminating information, several countries have come up with innovative sanitation solutions such as Australian National Public Toilet Map, Great British Public Toilet Map, to name a few. These information resources are of immense benefit to the public and travellers as well as to the highly vulnerable sections like the aged, women and children. Contextualizing the emerging need for a similar solution in India, Eram Scientific Solutions has developed and implemented India's First Connected eToilet Infrastructure to revamp the sanitation landscape of the Country as a whole.

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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

eToilets in newfangled stainless steel outfit:

It has long plagued the minds, and bladders, of people of Pollachi: where is the closest public toilet, and what squalid horrors will confront the user on arrival? But when nature calls, the Town of Pollachi listened and responded by initiating eToilet implementation in their region. The new version of eToilets – Stainless Steel Model (SS Model) has been launched in two locations in Pollachi, a small but very happening town in Tamil Nadu State, India. The eToilets have been installed in two locations at Pollachi viz; Round Road Park and Government Girls Higher Secondary School. These toilets will be a welcome relief to both the visitors to the park and the girl students in schools.

The eToilet SS Model has been redesigned to form a sleek, compact and attractive sanitation infrastructure. With a built space requirement of less than 25 square feet, the new eToilet model offers several unique features like highly durable enclosure, built with steel, sleek and innovative design, user friendly interfaces, sensor-based functionalities, environment friendly sewage treatment and remote management capabilities. eToilet has also integrated technology to ensure cleanliness and hygiene and conserve water and power usage. Eco-friendly sewage management is made possible through the integration of Anapackage, an anaerobic sewage treatment system.

The support rendered by the Pollachi Municipality was instrumental on the successful implementation of eToilets here. Another 4 eToilets are in the pipeline for Visakhapatnam, often called “The Jewel of the East Coast”, located in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India.
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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Dear Bincy

Thank you very much for your participating in this interesting expert chat. (for more information on the expert chat, see here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-ge...nment-institute#5638 )

Unfortunately not all of your presentation could be recorded, but as I have been present and based on your presentation I do have a few further questions.

I understood (and please correct me if I am wrong) that the toilets are "self-sustained" and that "there was no inlet nor outlet". Well, there must be at least a inlet: without pee and poo it wouldn't be a toilet, its it? :-)
However, I tried to find out what is exactly meant with this and found at the end of the presentation only "Toilets which are self-sustainable, creating its own energy and water for its functioning and also powering the external environment."
So I went back to your initial post ( forum.susana.org/forum/categories/105-pr...cientific-india#3663 ) and found out that they are actually either connected to the existing water supply and drainage system or to a biomembrane reactor.

This sounds similar to the concept of the blue diversion toilet presented by Tove.
-> Can you also give us some further indications on what type of treatment and recycling technologies your are using?

Best regards
Dorothee

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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Dear all,

For those of you who are interested in the research project of Bincy on those etoilets in India ("Research on Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation"), I am giving you below a summary of what was in the expert chat about her project (the expert chat was mentioned here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-ge...te-sept-12-2013#5624 )

Bincy's part stats at 30:30 into the recording, i.e. here:



Unfortunately, there was a problem with synchronising her voice with her slides during her presentation. But you can view her presentation here (nice, colourful photos!):

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At 33:06 into the recording, the short question session starts:



Nelson asked her if she could explain more about the self sterilisation, self-cleaning mechanism.

Answer by Bincy: It is all entirely sensor-based. The sensor picks up when someone enters or leaves the toilet. After the user has exited the room, the toilet flushes by itself (in case the user forgot to flush, I presume). If the user was on the toilet for longer than 3 minutes, more flushing water is used than if it was less than 3 minutes (assuming that more than 3 minutes means the user defecated; less than 3 minutes: it is assumed the user only urinated).

Also, the toilets are squatting type toilets, which means they are level on the ground. As the toilets do get muddy and dirty from people's shoes, there is a floor cleaning mechanism that comes on after 5-10 users (I wonder: does this generate perhaps an unnecessarily large amount of wastewater?).

Arno also asked if the toilets are connected to the internet and continuously monitored on-line?

Bincy said: yes.

Arno pointed out that these are the first toilets worldwide wtih real time functional data. (I wonder: is the performance of the wastewater treatment then also monitored as closely and available online?).

Arno also pointed out later in the summary that Bincy's toilets were generating money through advertising on the outside of the toilets. (I wonder: is this amount significant? What fraction of the O&M costs could the income from the advertising cover?)

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Eram Scientific has been conferred by yet another prestigious honour by US based Fast Company’s (Headquartered in New York City) Annual Most Innovative Companies issue, released yesterday. In 2014’s coverage of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in the World”, Eram Scientific was identified as the 5th Most Innovative in the India sector, in the rankings of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in 10 critical areas. Eram Scientific joins leading businesses including Google, Apple, WhatsApp, Walmart, and Nike.

Eram Scientific forayed into public sanitation with its flagship product eToilet which now has crossed 400 installations spreading over 10 states in India. eToilet uses novel technology essentially to meet a cherished goal viz. for conserving water and power and to ensure cleanliness and hygiene to every user. eToilet also integrates environment friendly sewage treatment technologies for onsite treatment of wastes generated.

Fast Company releases an annual guide on innovation in the economy, featuring businesses that have the greatest impacts across their industries and our culture as a whole. The Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s most significant, high-profile editorial effort of the year. The editorial team spends months gathering and sifting data, to identify those enterprises that exemplify the best in business from across the economy and around the world. The end result is a package that dares to be different, emphasizing not just revenue growth and profit margins but also progressive, sustainable business models and an ethos of creativity. Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design.
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Re: Self Sustained eToilet for households/ Urban-semi urban Public/ Community Sanitation (Eram Scientific, India)

Hello again Bincy,

Can you tell us more about how you are going to be taking forward your project as a recipient of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: India grant scheme ( forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-in...ates-foundation#7981 )?

I'm sure many would be interested to hear about your progress and future plans.

Best

Joe
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