Archive | April, 2013

Silicon Valley Inspiration Tour with IDEO.org

25 Apr
The Sanitation App Challenge winners in front of the Zynga headquarters

The Sanitation App Challenge winners in front of the Zynga headquarters

We spent an exciting and inspirational week in the Bay Area with Molly and Matteo and our hosts IDEO.org, the non-profit branch of the global human centered design consultancy. They had a dense program of workshops and company visits lined up for us. We got insight into Zynga, who told us about measuring player engagement in online games, Google, who toured us around their Mountain View campus, The Hub Bay Area, who gave us their take on collaboration and how it’s a core value for the global Hub movement, Airbnb, who discussed different notions of trust, Indiegogo, who advised us on launching successful crowdfunding campaigns, and Facebook, who discussed how to reach . Airbnb have a large crowd of photographers they send into people’s homes to get high quality, standardized and certified photos for their listings, which makes them more trustworthy and more likely to be rented. This inspired us to reach out to photographers and ask them to take photographs of infrastructure – or the lack thereof – in the communities where we would like to deploy Taarifa in order to get higher visibility and a better feel for the status quo. Wednesday evening we met a number of San Francisco based development organizations at a happy hour at the offices of FSG, a non-profit consultancy, who were asking how they might use Taarifa in some of their future development projects.

Fayaz and Dimas interviewing WholeFoods as part of the human-centered design workshop

Fayaz and Dimas interviewing WholeFoods as part of the human-centered design workshop

The highlight of the inspiration tour were the workshops IDEO folks led at their offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. On Tuesday we got an introduction to Human Centered Design and applied it straight away with conducting interviews and prototyping and application to reduce food waste at IDEO and other companies. This made us realize the importance of getting concrete and first hand feedback from users before starting to write any code. We hope we can apply this methodology when redesigning Taarifa to better serve the people in the communities. In another workshop on Thursday on branding we had another opportunity to reflect more on Taarifa’s core mission and values and worked out concrete milestones and areas on which to focus next in the further development of the platform.

Molly Norris from IDEO.org giving us very detailed feedback on our app at the last day of the inspiration tour

Taarifa announced as “Grand Prize Winner” of the Sanitation Hackathon

20 Apr

Taarifa was one of over 70 projects to enter the Sanitation HackatHome App Challenge following the Sanitation Hackathon in December 2012. Judges seemed impressed and we were shortlisted among the ten finalists. On April 19th the World Bank announced the three Grand Prize Winners and Taarifa is one of them!

Fayaz and Florian receiving the “Grand Prize Winner” certificate on behalf of Taarifa

The prize was awarded at a “A Matter of Life: Investing in Sanitation – a Conversation with Jan Eliasson, Tony Lake, & Global Decision-Makers” as part of the World Bank spring meetings at their Washington D.C. headquarters. Florian and Fayaz travelled to Washington from London, UK and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to receive the price on behalf of the global Taarifa team. Following the panel discussion with panelists Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations, Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF, Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank Group and Jim McHale, Vice President, American Standard, we had the opportunity to showcase our apps to attendees.

Fayaz demonstrating Taarifa

Later we set off to the OpenGov Hub for the ICT4Drinks: Sanitation Hackathon Edition happy hour. The evening kicked off with introductions by  Chris Vein, Chief Innovation Officer at the World Bank and former White House Deputy CTO, Jae So, Manager of the Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, and John Kluge, co-founder of Eirene and Toilet Hackers, followed by a short presentation of our apps by each time and Q&A. Afterwards there was time for casual conversations and engaging discussions with the attendees, many from the D.C. developer scene.

Sanitation Hackathon Grand Prize Winners with Chris Vein and Jae So