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.
Design Thinking has been gaining steam over the past few years. The popular visualisations of the framework seem obvious and intuitive – which begs the question, what is so different about it?
The answer to that lies in what’s different about in our world today. In the words of Eddie Obeng:
“The real 21st century around us isn’t so obvious to us, so instead we spend our time responding rationally to a world which we understand and recognize, but which no longer exists… Companies make their expensive executives spend ages carefully preparing forecasts and budgets which are obsolete or need changing before they can be published.”
We’ve all seen the three lenses of Design Thinking, you know the one I’m talking about. The Venn diagram of Desirability, Feasibility and Viability, and at the intersection, the holy grail of Innovation/User Experience/Design Thinking/(insert own phrase here).
When I first looked at this, I had two questions:
How is this so different from the way businesses have been functioning thus far?
How have they survived these past several years, if they haven’t been taking into consideration all these factors?
13 year old Priyanka* looked around in wonder as she entered Delhi’s International Airport Terminal 3, with her three schoolmates in tow. Teach for India Fellow Manyata, accompanied them through customs and security to board a flight to Poland for the month-long Brave Festival, an international cultural exchange program.
“Their excitement was palpable,” exclaims Manyata every single time she reminisces the awe and wonder with which the teenagers soaked in their very first flying experience. “From the time we entered the Terminal building, all the way through to Poland and their stay with local families, interacting with their ilk from across the world, performing pieces of India’s rich dances, collaborative choreography, et al, it was an experience few of their lot can even begin to imagine. These kids live in urban slums adjoining the most affluent neighbourhoods and yet may never have visited the local shopping mall. Could all the other 400 kids at Nai Disha—the foundation that runs their school—have an experience “nearly” the same as Priyanka and her friends had.”
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.
We hope you had an opportunity to read our previous post on Social Apps. Carrying on from there, we thought we’d share with you some examples of Social Apps (apps using new-age digital technology and mobile apps to offer aid for emergency situations or Social causes) we came across and really liked.
These are three examples in three very different contexts. What qualifies them to be a part of this list together is that they are simple and relevant enough to make you wonder – “Hey why didn’t I think of that?!” – and have the potential to really make a difference. Or as we like to call it – #smallideasBIGDIFFERENCE.
So without further ado …
1. The Casserole Club
Arguably most might think that sharing food with those who can afford to order it out does not qualify as a Social Cause. But the potential of this idea combined with its simplicity is what makes it a part of this list. In their own words –
Casserole helps people share extra portions of home cooked food with others in their area who might not always be able to cook for themselves.
Casserole was born out of a desire to help bring communities together. There are a lot of people cooking food and many others who would greatly appreciate a home cooked meal. Our goal is to connect the two.
You can read up more on their website – http://www.casseroleclub.com/about. How it works is, you simply update whatever you’re cooking for the day on their website. The site builds up a menu of the various food updates for the day and anyone looking for a home-cooked meal can take their pick and order from the site. Eliminates food wastage and helps people staying away from home get a simple home-cooked meal. If this isn’t a neat Social App idea, then what is! If you’re from India you can just imagine the potential of something like this for the thousands staying by themselves away from home and craving “Maa ke haath ka khaana” – Mom-made food!
[Incidentally and its funny how these things work – came across this tweet just before posting this article 🙂 ]
Another very simple and very brilliant idea. Which site does not after all serve up a 404-page every once in a while. And when there is no way you can control that, why not at least donate your 404 page for a greater good and donate it to notfound.org!
Across the European Union, thousands of children go missing every year. Thanks to the NotFound project, you can make a difference. Install our application and a picture of a missing child automatically gets published on every ‘page not found’ of your website.
The idea can be extended to so many different social causes. Wish it were applicable in India too. We would’ve gladly donated our 404 page! Dear Satyamev Jayate team, are you listening?!
This one is a start-up operating right out of our own country – India – where understandably the need is greater. A focused job portal aiming to connect people from the middle and lower income group with employers looking for trustworthy, qualified workers. Job information in the informal sector usually spreads through word-of-mouth and technology intervention here helps job seekers find out about jobs they could not have known about otherwise and for employers to increase their range of finding trustworthy workforce. A great idea which helps people from lower strata of society find livelihood and improve their living standards!
Babajob.com is a web and mobile start-up dedicated to bringing better job opportunities to the informal job sector (cooks, maids, security guards, office helpers, etc.) by appropriately connecting the right employers and job seekers via the web, mobile apps, SMS, the mobile web and voice services.
Babajob was born as an experiment by Sean Blagsvedt, his step-father Ira Weise and Microsoft colleague Vibhore Goyal, to leverage the web, the mobile and social networks to accelerate the escape from poverty. It is an experiment — a possible solution to provide all levels of job seekers more with job opportunities while efficiently helping employers find suitable employees.
One look at their site though and you can see people using the site even for some more main-stream jobs like Sales and Marketing. The site provides a mix of web and mobile technology with ample human intervention to enable even the uneducated. We have not used the service ourselves yet but do plan to whenever we have a suitable opening and urge you to do the same. Do share your experience with us.
[Translations for non-hindi speaking readers – Rozgar/Rojgar means Employment ; Naukri means Job ; Duniya is World]
Do let us know what you think about these ideas and share with us any other that you came across and found interesting or are working on yourself. We’d love to know more about them! We are especially interested in ideas where smart phones and smart apps are innovatively being used to provide help in the social sector.
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a global event held annually at Cannes, France. It took place from 17 to 23 June this year. The festival showcased some fantastic ideas and work from several creative professionals around the globe. We bring you some of the best work in interactive, digital, design and smart technology space that we found really interesting.
Augmented Mobile Experience
1. A Shadow QR code, that works using the sunlight’s shadow to give people a unique lunch shopping experience. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.
2. BAND-AID Magic Vision: Featuring the Muppets, a mobile AR experience that turns any ordinary BAND-AID Brand adhesive Muppets bandage or box into a stage for interactive entertainment so that kids forget the pain and enjoy. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.
3. An augmented reality (AR) app created to help find the best students while giving them a taste of what life is like as a Medical Officer. This campaign won the Direct Lions Gold Award.
Innovative use of Technology
4. An annual report that could only be read under sunlight. Crafted by mixing right ratio of the photochromatic colours, in order to render the report all white under artificial light. This campaign won the Design Lions Grand Prix Award.
5. VIP experience for loyal customers of Red Tomato, by giving them fridge magnets in which with a press of a button, it would automatically place an order for their favorite pizza. This campaign won the Mobile Lions Gold Award.
Innovative Technology for mobile
6. Google partnered with Coca-Cola to create a mobile app that lets you gift a Coke can through a special vending machine anywhere across the globe to a stranger. This project won the First Cannes Mobile Grand Prix.
7. Catching people while they’re already bleeding, by putting a simple marrow registry kit into a box of over-the-counter bandages, and turning an everyday act into a chance to save a life. This campaign won the Grand Prix for Good Lions Award.
8. Minus One is a simple, one-step initiative to save fast-disappearing forests. A green initiative by Samsung Printers. This project won the Media Lions Silver Award.
9. American Express created Small Business Saturday, a new shopping day right after Black Friday, to help small businesses get more customers. This campaign won the Direct Lions Grand Prix Award.
This is the last post in our series of ‘Ideas of the Week’. Since this is also the last blog post of the year, we thought we can end the year by sharing with you some predictions for 2012 that we have been reading and find interesting. So here goes, without much further ado …
This week’s post for the Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1. IBM: Mind Reading machines will change our lives Minds+Machines+Lives
In five years, we’ll simply be able to think something, and a computer will respond. That’s the vision from IBM. which just published its “5 in 5” ³ forecast, which attempts to predict five technologies that have the potential to significantly change our lives in the next five years. More
2.City Fireflies, An Urban Video Game Whose Screen Is A Building Video Game+ Computer Vision technology+ Smartphones
City Fireflies is a simple game that looks like tons of fun: Players cluster in a plaza in front of a large video screen showing a grid of 8-bit-looking “enemy” characters, which is superimposed on a live video image of the physical plaza itself. More
3. LYTRO: The Biggest Thing To Happen to Photography Since Digital Innovation+Camera
This Camera couldn’t care less about focus . Lytro’s Technology is pretty simple. With this camera you can focus anywhere in the picture, change the light levels – and presuming you’re using a device with a 3-D ready screen – even create a picture you can tilt and shift in three dimensions. More
Saving the planet and cutting down on emissions is a good thing, but who says you can’t have a little fun while doing so?“Sustainable” and “green” tech can seem boring, but the next generation of technology isn’t just good for the planet – it’s pretty darn cool to boot. More
5. Photographer i is a new interactive magazine designed specifically for the Tablet Tablet+ Interactive+Photography
Photographers i is a new tablet magazine The magazine offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at photography, covering every genre possible – outdoor and studio photography, photo-journalism and fine art, editorial and portrait, and more. More
This weekâ€™s post for theÂ Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1.Â Design by Nature Design+Design Thinking
In the minds of designers and those who have a soft spot for design, Maggie Macnab is perhaps, a household name, especially when it comes to concepts and ideas behind meaningful visual messaging. If you think you learned a lot from reading her other comprehensive volume, â€˜Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in a Visual Communicationâ€™, then be prepared to make room for what you will gleam from â€˜Design by Natureâ€™ when you give it the chance it deserves. More
2.Â Apps For The Environment Apps+Mobile+Environment
Last June, the Environmental Protection Agency launched a competition calledÂ Apps for the Environment, to find new uses for its data, much of whichÂ either never sees the light of day, or is poorly presented or difficult to understand. More
3.Â Ford Teases 2013 Fusion With Logo Recognition Ford+App+Branding
Ford has launched anÂ iPhone and Android app that is activated by pointing the phoneâ€™s camera at a Ford logo â€” either on a car, online or even printed on a piece of paper. When the app reads the logo, it activates a 360 degree version of the new model, which you can use for a virtual driving course. More
4.Â A Crossword Puzzle That Doubles As A QR Code QR Code+Marketing+Idea
Filmmaker Christian Svanes Kolding sees an opportunity for QR codes to be more than just lame marketing tools. More
5.Â Your Car Is The Next Advertising Battleground Contextual Advertising
Those hours you spend driving each day will soon be interrupted with contextual advertising, pointing you to that Starbucks around the corner or the McDonald’s just down the street. More
6.Â The Cult of Ideas Ideas+Innovation+Design Thinking
The Cult of Ideas is a dangerous cult lurking within the field of corporate innovation. It is a disturbing cult in which members worship massive numbers of ideas above all else. Sadly, however, the ugly truth is that the cult of ideas can stifle creativity and inhibit innovation. More
This week’s post for the Ideas of the week featuring ideas that might change our world.
1. 10 proven strategies of high performance team![Info graphics] Strategies+ideas
Who drives product innovation? The answer is small, entrepreneurial development teams – better known as “agile teams” in the high-tech industry.More
2. Call Earth-Eco Dome,Superadobe built from local earth filled Superadobe coils(earth stabilized with cement or lime). Idea+construction
Cal-Earth’s mission is guided by three principles: (1) shelter is a basic human right, (2) every human being should be able to build a house for him or herself, and (3) the best way to provide shelter for the exponentially increasing human population is by building with earth.More
3. WalkSafe-A pedestrian safety app Innovation
This Android app uses your smartphone’s camera to sense oncoming traffic, then alerts you to get the hell out of the road..More
4. Creative – CV Innovation+design
A great showcase design post of some truly creative and inspiration CV designs which for sure would blow away any potential employer.More
5. Learn a language for free, and simultaneously translate the Web. Web+idea
Duolingo is a beta/experimental website that aims to crowd source text translation. One intended incentive for the users to take part is that they learn a language.More
Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately – all for free.