The Indian Railway System is one of the largest in the world, averaging 21 million passengers per day1. At every station, along with railway passengers, are innumerable children, many of whom appear to be homeless. And it is this appearance of homelessness that attracts organisations to come forward to rescue the children, and restore them to their families.
However, many organisations working with children, have observed that the children so rescued—as high as 50% of them—run away from their homes again. In this episode of Design Talks, Dunu Roy, founder & director of Hazards Centre, explains why this is the case.
In a previous post, we highlighted the importance of data, and the inherent flaw in collecting data through paper forms. We also suggested that technology can improve the integrity and timeliness of data.
Real world application – tackling Dengue
The past couple of months have seen a rise in the number of dengue cases in Delhi. Given the sheer size of a city like Delhi, disseminating civic agencies to every nook and corner, in equal measure, is neither feasible nor useful.
The most affected localities would take a higher priority and need a higher number of resources. Identifying such areas through traditional data gathering tools will result in data which is likely to be too late.
What is required in such a scenario is a tool through which accurate data can be captured and analysed in near real time.
Imagine if diseases were reported as soon as they were diagnosed, and each diagnosis could be displayed as a pin on a map. The more the number of cases, the higher the number of pins. A locality with a high concentration of pins will draw attention immediately, thus making it easy to identify where resources need to be deployed urgently.
HealthWatch is a disease surveillance platform for capturing real-time data about the spread of diseases and visualization of the data captured.
With domain expertise provided by St. Stephen’s hospital, HealthWatch was designed to replace the existing system of data gathering used in the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
The HealthWatch platform (pilot in Delhi-NCR) consists of 2 parts:
a smart phone app
a map-based analytics dashboard
Doctors can use the App to report diseases as they diagnose them. Each disease and associated symptoms are mapped to the doctor’s location. Data obtained through the App is aggregated and presented in real-time on a map for healthcare professionals to identify vulnerable areas and take appropriate measures to manage the spread of diseases.
As part of a high school statistics project, our teacher gave us a form to collect data about customer automobile preferences. We had to analyse the data collected, and present it as a report.
While some were honest enough to actually go and get the forms filled, there were quite a few students who were getting dummy data filled by other classmates.
A few years later
I was walking near a market when a lady holding a bunch of papers asked me if I could spare a few minutes to answer questions about potato chips. She filled the fields of the survey form with my answers at great speed — a great time-saving skill, no doubt.
However, when one of my answers seemed unfavourable, she said ‘Oh no! I can’t record that.’ And then, she changed my answer!
* * *
Statistics form the core of almost every article we read. But behind numbers like 83.7% and 4.8 million, there is data collected by field staff.
While statistical reports talk of error margins, how reliable is the data on which they are based? It is hard to tell. Can we improve their quality? Definitely.
One of the projects we have had the opportunity to work on in the recent past, addresses this very issue.
Before we jump to the solution, here’s a look at the problem in a little detail.
Data typically goes through several stages before becoming a meaningful number — capture, display, interaction and analysis.
Data capture, more often than not, involves paper forms. And paper forms have several inherent problems.
The first is the time lag between when the data is captured, and when it is available for analysis. The second problem is that of data integrity. Forms filled in manually are susceptible to errors during data capture, as well as during data transfer, as illustrated in the two real scenarios mentioned earlier. The third, and perhaps the most critical problem, is that of data authenticity. Paper forms can very easily be used to generate false information.
Raw aggregated data – typically tabulated – is not user friendly. It requires filtering in order to be useful for decision and policy making.
All this seems a lot like a game of Chinese Whispers. By the time the data can actually be analysed, it may lose its value.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could skip a few steps? As it happens, that is how technology can help. This was the subject on which our CEO, Mr. Sunil Malhotra recently spoke about at the 124A Bilateral Training Programme of International Centre for Information Systems and Audit (organised by Comptroller and Auditor General of India). While interacting with the delegates of FBSA, Republic of Iraq, during the session on Disease Surveillance and the Role of Technology, Mr. Malhotra emphasized the need to shorten the data collection timeline, as well as ensure integrity of data, through the use of mobile technology.
Here’s an excerpt from the companion presentation, explaining the common challenges involved in data collection, as well as how mobile technology can help solve them.
Quick! A show of hands to see how many of you thought this was yet another post about yet another Social Media app? All of you?! Thought as much. Unfortunately, even a search on Google for “Social Apps” reveals a lot of Social Media apps and not any that matched our understanding of the term – Apps that can help / provide enablement to help with Social Causes.
The idea came to our CEO, Sunil Malhotra while watching the Satyamev Jayate episodes – Why isn’t anyone thinking of mobile solutions for the social sector?
Which obviously led to the question – Is someone thinking about Mobile solutions that can help?
Mobile phones are becoming the common man’s computer – available with all of us wherever we go and keeping us always connected – could they be used to empower the Social sector?
What is it about mobility solutions that make them perfect tools to become a vehicle of aid?
1. Their pervasiveness – in developing countries like India basic feature phones have managed to reach even into the rural areas.
2. It’s a personal device and available with us wherever we go. In an emergency we naturally reach for our phones.
3. Simplicity of use – “ stripped of complex menus and navigation and even your kids have figured out how to use your phone better than you.
And just the basic fact that mobile solutions and smart phones have triggered everybody’s imagination and resulted in brilliant innovative ideas that touch every aspect of our life.
Let’s see some examples …
Close at the heels of the Satyamev Jayate episodes was the very unfortunate incident of the Guwahati molestation case. There was huge outrage and a lot of people expressed their anger and frustration, some through blog posts. Amidst all the outrage it was quite pleasant to see there was a sane voice of a young software engineer Shantanu (goes by @tantanoo on twitter) who wrote this post http://tantanoo.com/random-rants/2012/07/aftermath/ . In this post he explores ideas about how technology could come to the rescue in such situations. What stood out for me is that he peeks outside the proverbial box, into other boxes and draws parallels from the likes of natural defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom, from ongoing research in the Department of Defense and other apps developed across the globe (apparently there are quite a few of them out there!).
For example he talks about how maybe on the trigger of a button, the phone could shriek out loudly on your behalf (because let’s admit it, in most situations when we are caught off guard, though we do believe we need to raise our voice, we are not able to) or emit a smell so offensive (like a skunk does when its attacked) that the attacker is stunned. Do go through his post. Highly recommended.
It’s also heartening to see that someone has already made the first move in India. An Indian non-profit organization WhyPoll has launched a smart app called “Fight Back” which can help women fight sexual assault. The app lets women immediately alert friends and family if they feel threatened via SMS, email or facebook and they can in turn reach out to help or alert police who make help available faster. Similar apps are available and functional outside India too but its good to see someone make a move in the positive direction in our country too. The app and service I believe is currently available in Delhi and NCR only. Maybe a little more concerted effort is needed even from our authorities to recognize the value of such an initiative and roll it out country-wide.
There were many such issues raised by the team of Satyamev Jayate – that are close to all of our hearts and we all feel something should be done about it. I am sure there are many ways in which technology and design thinking can come together in crafting effective solutions to address these malice. Much like pointed out in Shantanu’s post, a little out-of-the-box thinking is required, taking into account real-life scenarios and borrowing ideas from the life around us. We would love to hear from you if you have any such interesting ideas or know of any Smart App ideas that have been / are being implemented in the Social sector. The iron is hot thanks to efforts like Satyamev Jayate. Let’s not let the fire die down!
Our very first game The Ladies’ Oracle has been out there for quite a while now on the Google Play Store (Android Market) and it has been getting a great response and from users worldwide! The game is so well liked that it has already crossed the ten thousand download benchmark – through just word-of-mouth.
Originally a classic book (written by the famous Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa), we adapted the Oracle to be a pocket friend that can help you through any situation of your day-to-day life *wink*.
And we have been overwhelmed with the great response the app has been getting. Some say the app was hugely accurate (all credit to Mr Agrippa). Some users even asked us to make the app for tablets and other smart app platforms !
We are so happy you guys are having fun playing it. And we do plan to keep improving the application and for that we would love to get your feedback. If you haven’t already played it, download now and play! Give us your feedback on how we can improve it for you.
You can read more about Ladies Oracle in our blog-post. Also, you can head to the Google Play now and download the game.
Since the advent of smartphones and mobile applications, many enterprises are exploring ways in which they can take their business or parts of their business mobile . We have ourselves helped organisations design concepts for how their Sales, Marketing or Field Service executives can be empowered with Smart Devices as well as Smart Collateral.
Although Mobile is the obvious way to go, a mobile solution cannot be approached with a traditional desktop or even the web mindset. You cannot just package an existing desktop/web solution into a smaller screen and call it mobile. “Mobility is not Miniaturisation“.
Smart Devices are highly personal – so much so that a lot of companies are promoting the B.Y.O.D philosophy – they are always on, always with us, usually connected and directly addressable.
Which is why when our CEO, Mr Sunil Malhotra was requested to speak at the CII Conference on Mobile Business, he talked about “3 Point Something” the 3 main factors – What, Why and How – any organisation should consider when they decide to go mobile.
We would love your feedback on the presentation. If you have an app idea or would even like to explore ideas on how your organisation can go mobile, get in touch with us. We have specially structured our offerings to help you Ideate, Design and Develop your Smart Apps.
If you had a chance to read our earlier post here, you would probably agree with us that despite the vast array of solutions available in the market today, property hunting is still quite a tedious task for anybody. There is a clear need for a simple yet effective solution that will be available for the user at her point-of-inspiration! Which is where a smart phone comes into the picture.
There is a distinct value that a mobile solution and especially one on a smart phone platform brings to the user. Smart phones today have practically become an extension of our being; our personal information, wants, needs and traits are all captured within our smart devices. We carry them with us on our person and it’s available with us wherever we go. It is little wonder then that if you are a smart phone user and are also looking for a house, your first instinct will be to look for an app that can help you do just that.
Which is exactly what ReMIX(Real-Estate Mobile India X-change), an Android solution by Ideafarms is designed to do. ReMIX comes packed with features like:
A visual & interactive map-based navigation
Location-based property listing
Property listing and search – for buy or rent
Filtering of selections based on a user’s needs
One-tap to connect with property owners / agents
Remember properties and mark for future reference
All of these features and more, backed with our User Experience Design capabilities, ensure that you will have a handy and easy to use solution available with you when you go looking for your next house.
A White-Label Product?!
Did the words ‘white-label’ catch your fancy there? Yes, ReMIX is actually designed as an offering for existing Real Estate Classifieds Portals / Realtors / Real-estate Developers to integrate and offer as a value- add to their existing suite of solutions for their smart phone users. On purchasing a license of ReMIX, all you need to do is hook-up your existing database with ReMIX and you can have your own simple-to-use, branded application available for your smart phone users practically from tomorrow! In effect, we are taking away the headache from you of spec-ing out and developing a solution in-house. You can leave those nitty-gritties to the experts – us – and have a spanking new Android app in the Android-Market with zero time to market!
All this sounds interesting and you want to know more, get in touch with us. You can email us at its[dot]MAGIC[at]Ideafarms[dot]com and we will be happy to set up a demo for you.
Today’s Real Estate Marketplace is filled with a great many Online Exchanges whose primary aim is to empower the consumer to get closer to his dream property. Today’s consumer is aware of the market, knows how to filter and select and has a whole host of services from dedicated agents to Market Exchanges to help him in his selection process. All he needs then, is dedicated time to search for properties – be it on his computer screen, or driving around with his agent.
But consider this,
He doesn’t always want to drive around looking for a house but would love to find a house when he is driving around He is very busy and is constantly on the move He doesn’t always have those few hours to spare and he doesn’t always know multiple agents who will get him that one house he wants He’s not always inspired by what he sees and rarely does he find what he wants at the time that he wants it
Property search obviously, still is, a long drawn out, tedious process. At Ideafarms, we’ve turned this whole business of Property Search inside out. We researched the market, drank endless cups of coffee discussing realities with Agents, scraped through the internet looking at technological solutions, and built on our own User Experience study searching for property for our own office premises. Here’s what we realised :
You can’t plan inspiration – that perfect property won’t always wait for agents or portals. You can’t always plan time – You just have to use it. And you can’t plan somebody’s property – It is still a very personal decision
We are User Experience Consultants. Understanding people & their interaction with their environment and in their context is our bread and butter. And today, we’ve gone and put our money where our mouth is, literally. Our belief in our experience is so strong that we invested our time, money and resources into creating a solution for users like us who, while still dependent on Agents and Exchanges for property, have the need for something more in tune with their current needs.
The user, like us, is Mobile and his eyes and hands are always glued to the phone. For him, there is nothing more personal than his phone which is with him everywhere he goes. If that is what gives him his inspiration, then that’s where our solution needs to be.
We’ve called our solution Remix, simply because we took the best of what current solutions have to offer and added our experience and brand of creativity to it. It also helped that we had an acronym to fit it well! – Real Estate Mobile India Exchange.
Remix has been built on the Android platform – for today’s changing user and his evolving needs. We believe it augments every solution that exists today to help anyone interested in Property.
This week’s post for the Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1. Chevrolet Speedometer Design – a design evolution over the last hundred years Design+Usability+Experience
Speedometers are those kind of items you look at thousands of times during your life, without ever really noticing. You notice the speed, not the meter. And if you do notice the meter chances are you don’t realize someone actually designed it. The company probably even did some research beforehand. Research regarding the readability of typefaces, the right size of the numbers and the space between them. More
2. After Trying To “Kill Math,” An Ex-Apple Designer Aims To Kill Reading Design+HCI
3. Condition ONE iPad App Makes War Reporting Visceral, Terrifying Augmented Reality+App+News+War
The main feature of Condition ONE is its augmented-reality-esque interaction design. Instead of watching documentaries in a tiny, static video window, Condition ONE plays back full-screen video that you can literally pan and tilt around in by moving the iPad around in physical space. More
4. Mercedes: Blur Marketing+Idea
A brilliant marketing strategy used by Mercedes to launch its new Mercedes-Benz 2012 C-Class Coupe. More
5. Computerised contact lens will keep you up to date with news and texts Augmented Reality+Tech Innovation
Until now, the concept of info-vision had belonged to the realms of science fiction. However, scientists have developed a prototype lens that could one day provide all kinds of hands-free information. More
6. Aparna Rao: High-tech art (with a sense of humor) Art+Technology+Humor
TED Talks Artist and TED Fellow Aparna Rao re-imagines the familiar in surprising, often humorous ways. With her collaborator Soren Pors, Rao creates high-tech art installations — a typewriter that sends emails, a camera that tracks you through the room only to make you invisible on screen. More