New app powers better sanitation in developing world

Apr 10, 2013
New app powers better sanitation in developing world

A new mobile phone app developed by a University of Nottingham researcher is changing the lives of millions of people in Africa by giving them the power to instantly report problems with poor sanitation.

More than a third of the world's population lacks access to facilities which perpetuates disease and high rates of . Now a new competition, the Hackathon sponsored by the World Bank, is challenging researchers in communication technology to design innovative software, which can address real-world problems in health and sanitation.

Mark Iliffe is a doctoral researcher at the University's Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute. His new web and mobile app, Taarifa, has been chosen as one of 10 finalists in the competition and is already changing lives in countries like Uganda and Tanzania. The community developing Taarifa is wide ranging, bringing together academics, humanitarian developers and community members to develop the Taarifa platform.

Improving the flow

Taarifa is an open source web application for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping. It allows people to input and share their own sanitation problems using SMS, web forms, email or social media. The reports can be monitored by and acted upon to carry out repairs, improvements or new infrastructure, giving citizens the power to affect changes in their own communities.

Mark said: "Taarifa creates positive feedback loops, engaging communities with NGOs and governments, but is developed by a core of humanitarian volunteers and developers. This gives a capacity and potential for rapid development and innovation to solve sanitation and other issues."

Mobile power to drive change

Jae So, manager of the Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank said: "Over 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to proper sanitation, yet over one billion of these people have access to a mobile phone. The key is to use rising access to mobile phones and other communications technologies to generate solutions to entrenched challenges such as limited access to toilets, weak supply chains for sanitary products, or limited feedback mechanisms that citizens can use to voice needs and complaints."

About the Sanitation Hackathon

The World Bank's Sanitation Hackathon is a yearlong strategic process that to date has involved:

  • Extensive consultations with communities on sanitation sector needs, and with experts to define the problems.
  • Two-day hackathon events held simultaneously in 40 cities around the world, with over 1,000 mobile app developers participating.
  • Over 700 concepts identified with 70 teams registering on the Sanitation HackatHome website.
The Grand Prize Award winners will be announced on 19 April 2013 on the eve of the World Bank's Spring Meetings.

Explore further: Body by smartphone

More information: sanitation.hackathome.com/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UN deputy chief urges action on water rights

Jan 25, 2013

(AP)—Most of the world's urgent problems boil down to water and sanitation, and global leaders must act to reduce child mortality and urban poverty, the UN's deputy chief said Friday.

Filthy toilets a blight on Asian prosperity

May 02, 2011

Fast-growing Asian economies may be flush with money but filthy toilets remain a blight across the region despite rising standards of living, with dire effects on poverty reduction and public health.

Recommended for you

Facebook's Internet.org expands in Zambia

14 hours ago

(AP)—Facebook's Internet.org project is taking another step toward its goal of bringing the Internet to people who are not yet online with an app launching Thursday in Zambia.

Body by smartphone

Jul 30, 2014

We love our smartphones. Since they marched out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers about 10 years ago, we've relied more and more on our iPhone and Android devices to organize our schedules, ...

Breakthrough elastic cloud-to cloud networking

Jul 30, 2014

Scientists from AT&T, IBM and Applied Communication Sciences (ACS) announced a proof-of-concept technology that reduces set up times for cloud-to-cloud connectivity from days to seconds. This advance is a major step forward ...

Security CTO to detail Android Fake ID flaw at Black Hat

Jul 29, 2014

Where have you heard this before: A team of security researchers discover a security flaw in Android devices. This is, however, news. This time, experts are talking about a flaw that involves a widespread ...

User comments : 0