I was very fortunate to work with some talent designers on a project that was developed in collaboration with the Open Societies Foundation(OSF), Parson’s New School, and CEGSS . OSF’s goal is to create works that help hold government agencies accountable through the dissemination of information to the people. For this project my team mates and I designed a mobile application that uses simple cell phones and a text messaging system(SMS) that allowed medical professionals and patients to request aid and also providing a collection of data to be used per medical facility and the government. The app allowed for aid and supplies to be requested via text messaging using inventory codes. Using these codes, was the best way to usurp language barriers across the country as many regions do not communicate easily because of regional dialects and language differences. The data collection website that worked in conjunction with the SMS service provided a democratic data set that both the public and the government could view and promote accountability in all regards to the transportation of medical supplies. For example, if the government fails to provide aid to a medical facility in a timely manner that data is easily viewable by the public online and transversely this real time data provides a means for the government to asses which facilities need supplies and when.
The SMS System:
We have designed a numerical coding system that devotes a code per inventory item and various medical codes. A user must simply just text these numbers to request supplies or aid. A well designed instructional pamphlet has also been designed to accompany the cell phone system. In the precedence image you will notice, that first we experimented with the idea of having a code wheel that would be more portable but found this design to be cumbersome, confusing to users, and less cost effective. So in end we decided that a simple and familiar instructional pamphlet would suffice.
Ushahidi is an open source data collection platform, that allows anyone to upload information and gps data that is readily available to anyone online. We decided to use this platform both for its easily accessible api but also because Ushahidi’s mission statement aligns well with our cause.
Take Aways :
While working with a team of very talent designers, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to develop several new skills. Firstly was learning how to set up and develop for an SMS system where text messages were sent to a responding web server. After being collected on the server they were compared to a registry of data that was then deployed on Ushahidi’s website using it’s api. In addition to this, we conducted several user testing workshops with our end users. Having the opportunity to discuss the workflow and system we had designed opened my eyes to not only cultural differences and use cases that had not occurred to me but helped us to improve our design and ready it to be used in the field. Lastly, working within a team is always rewarding in itself. Especially on such a humanitarian project such as this.