iHub Research has been carrying out a water governance study looking into the potential of mobile technology to enhance transparency in the water sector through providing citizens with an avenue to easily access water related information.
The research findings have been documented here
. In order to transition into implementation, the research team hosted a water ideation workshop which focused on understanding the limitations on the existing water applications, reviewing the challenges citizens are facing (as extracted from the research reports) and designing new/ improved ways to tackle the identified problems using mobile technology.
"Ideation is a facet of the design process specifically aimed at generating ideas to solve an identified problem. The purpose of ideation is to transition from identifying problems to creating solutions for your users. Ideation provides the opportunity for the participants to combine their understanding of the identified problems with users and your imagination to generate solution concepts."
Water ideation workshop process
The water ideation workshop was structured into several segments:
- Presentation of overall research findings to participants. Participants were furnished with statistics on the types of users interviewed, the type of water information citizens requested and the technological platforms citizens stated they would prefer to access water information from.
- Stakeholders shared their experiences on working in the water sector and highlighted key reasons why they were currently not using mobile technology to provide citizens with water information.
- Presenting participants with the design challenge to tackle “How to provide citizens living in rural Kenya with access to water information in a situation where they have none”
- Listing all possible users and water needs stated by respondents during the research. This information includes the type of citizens who would like to access water information e.g. farmers, housewives, students, and businessmen. Majority of the users were interested in receiving information on how to treat water and make it safe for consumption, existing water projects in the area and information on where to get water when the regular source is unavailable.
- Brainstorm possible solutions to address the water challenges listed. Examples of the solutions suggested include:
- Developing a reward system that gives citizens incentives to share water related information
- Digitization and simplification of the service charter to ensure citizens are aware of services they are entitled to including the relevant responsibility chain
- Partnering with mobile service providers and having water information (e.g. on water treatment) embedded on SMS, voice and ring tones.
- Helping relevant authorities develop an easily accessible information database from which citizens can query using mobile technology and the web
- Developing water information centers in rural areas, which gather and analyze locally relevant water information and present it to locals in a contextualized manner, including language. This would have the relevant certified vendors, their hotlines and a system to report malpractice.
The active next steps in the research project are to partner with organisations that are currently deploying water solutions to conduct research on how citizens are using the applications.
- Select the solution most likely to succeed from the list of identified solutions. The participants selected the option of developing a comprehensive database / information resource that they could use to query different kinds of water information using the mobile and the web.
- Prototype the selected solution- Developing a software prototype of the solution. During the workshop, the participants presented an idea of how the prototypes would work.
The research team identified some mobile water applications that work similarly to the selected solution.
The ideation process is summarised in the diagram below: