Data For Development
Data for Development (D4D) was an innovation programme ran by Sonatel and Orange which used anonymous telecom data to produce big data resulting in multiple research papers detailing key issues throughout Senegal. Orange asked for the support of my university to examine the results of the D4D programme and design a service which helps to improve the daily lives of Senegalese communities. Myself and three other designers worked together to create a service with two core functions which would drastically improve the lives of rural communities in Senegal.
The framework for our design was based on the D4D research paper 'Genesis of millet prices in Senegal: the role of production, markets and their failures' which details that the drastic differences between the cost of producing food and the price it is sold for. This was due to the lack of communication throughout the production process and high transportation costs. Resulting in a direct negative impact on the lives of rural communities. Long distances were travelled by members of poorer communities on multiple occasions to discover they could not afford food due to fluctuating prices. Researchers were able to create a model which predicted future food prices in Senegal based on telecom data and suggested that improved communication could also improve the prediction of food prices. We interviewed members of the Senegalese community who explained their own experience with this issue, expressing their frustrations and its impact on their lives.
Through extensive primary and secondary research, we were able to navigate through the creative process with the intended user in mind. Our aim was to resolve the issue of wasting time and energy due to unpredictable food costs by utilising the D4D data. With this data, we were also able to know what ingredients were available to different communities, also giving us the opportunity to address the issue of rising health concerns. We decided to design an information text service which would provide food prices to residents, saving them time and energy.
By getting in touch with members of the Senegalese community in London we were able to progress our project using user-centred design, attempting never to make wild assumptions. Testing was key to the success of the project, conducting experiments between ourselves as well as contacting professional chefs and members of the Senegalese community in London. These tests played a pivotal role in the outcome of our service, allowing us to run multiple low-risk tests quickly to adapt our designs.
Our final design was ‘the guava hub’ a service which provides two key functions: live food price information and live recipes, both via text messages.
- The food price texts provide information that will allow individuals to plan their trips to the market depending on the food prices. Eliminating wasted trips and providing cost-effective solutions to buying ingredients.
- The live recipes service provides cost-effective meals based on the live food prices. These dishes will be developed by chefs around the world, and details alongside an image of the chef will be shown at the end of the texted recipe. The recipes are designed to be communicated through icons and symbols, for universality and to cater for those whose reading and writing skills are still developing.
Residents also receive a printed glossary to understand the universal symbols, providing information on how to understand and use the icons in both functions of the Guava Hub service. To support the texting service, a Hub will also implement temporary pop-ups and mobile kitchens. The pop up will provide a printable recipe for the week, immediate help and support, and a communal access point to the live food information. So residents of communities can gather to discuss the latest designed recipes together.
A project in collaboration with Annie Kruntcheva, Izzy Milburn and Joanne Chui.