A lot has changed since I last blogged about Taarifa. We have been the recipient of a World Bank Innovation Fund grant and are going through the Geeks Without Bounds Humanitarian Accelerator. Work is really kicking off in earnest now and if you follow the project you will see much happening over the next two months.
In order to improve the platform and grow the community we are running a number hackathons around the world. You are hereby cordially invited to come hack on data, software (front and back end), hardware, and all the bits between in
- Boston at MIT’s Little Devices on May 7th and 8th (bit.ly/taarifabos)
- London May 24th and 25th (bit.ly/taarifalondon)
- Dar es Salaam (bit.ly/taarifadar) May 31st and June 1st.
There’s not much in the way of access to clean water in Tanzania. In the informal settlements, there are a bunch of water points, but many of them are broken. Rather than a continual process of putting in new ones, the local water engineers want to fix the existing ones – but they don’t know where the broken points are. This also prevents large-scale response organizations from accurately deploying resources (and seeing what initiatives are already working).
Through a combination of participatory mapping across a few groups, and water sensors, we think this situation can be bettered. The incoming information would not only feed into the repair cycle and communal awareness, but also into larger governance decisions.
Taarifa is an open source web application for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. It allows people to collect and share their own stories using various mediums such as SMS, Web Forms, Email or Twitter, and then the stories are placed as reports into a workflow. At the event, we will be building out its capabilities and localizing it to Dar es Salaam.
Things we might work on with the software:
- documentation (tutorial, installation walkthrough, waterpoint demo)
- general testing (unit, integration, ..)
- modern UI / dashboard design and development (UX, d3, ..)
- dummy data generator
- pretty report generator
- SMS reporting
- demo phone reporting app
- access control & user management (what is needed? how to best implement?)
- explore relevant standards (e.g., open311) and decide what is useful to support
- auction model for work/support contracts
- how to subscribe and notify people of changes to ‘their’ report (Twilio useful?)
- how to integrate sensor readings? data model?
- how to deal with report attachments (images, videos, …) currently not supported
- nice continuous integration setup & auto deploy to heroku when pushing to master
- exploit linked data for reports, locations, people, and resources where possible
It would also be useful if we had a second use case (besides waterpoints) to double check assumptions and architectures and test the dev experience. Promise tracker?
We’ll be playing with the Riffle (Remote, Independent, and Friendly Field Logger Electronics), a low-cost, open source hardware device that will measure some of the most common water quality parameters, using a design that makes it possible for anyone to build, modify, and deploy water quality sensors in their own neighborhood.
Why This is Different
I tend to be wary of social good hackathons. At Geeks Without Bounds, we run 1 to 5 internationally every month. Many of the projects are a learning experimentation for the people who attend – which is awesome and worthwhile. Few social good hackathons are for production, however. This one is. Taarifa is already deployed in Ghana and Uganda, and we have a place to deploy in Tanzania. People will use this tool: the few people with feature phones and connectivity, the water engineers and camp staff, and aid organizations.
Where you Come in
We need your skills, questions, and energy. The project is clearly defined, as are the times to work on it. We want you to join us at an event if possible, remotely if you can’t make it in person, and to continue to be a part of the community even after this round of open-source hacking.
We’ll have a call-in this Sunday at 19:00 EAT (worldtimebuddy for conversion). Bring your questions about the project, what you need to prepare for the hack weekends, or just out of general curiosity. Register for the hangout here.
–The Taarifa Team (reposted from GWOB)