From mid-July through September 10, four volunteer teams of five people each have worked on redesigning the Humanitarian Data Toolkit box as part of DT:DC’s Summer of Design program. More information on the design challenge is in this earlier blog. We were hoping that the box would go from being a Pelican case stuffed full of useful but disorganized components into a streamlined system that would make equipment setup and storage easy and logical. We were also hoping that teams might identify holes and weaknesses in the system that we had overlooked (whether related to the box itself or the research process), and offer some additional wisdom to improve the process overall.
The six weeks of the design challenge were fascinating. Teams asked great questions, came up with very thoughtful designs, sought more feedback, and iterated their designs. The biggest challenge for the process was the few number of users available to respond to their questions and designs. Only three people have used the toolkit during its pilot (not counting the enumerators who used the phones for surveys). Anahi, the Senior Innovation Advisor, was circling the globe during the entire time period. Teams got her feedback via a Skype call, but since she had the closet knowledge of the contents, it would have been ideal to get her in-person feedback on the designs. The M&E consultant for the project is based in Kenya, and a flubbed Skype appointment meant that the teams did not get to talk to him at all. And then there was me. After giving the kickoff presentation, I had a two-hour meeting with the teams and then weekly office hours at Internews afterwards. A few other meetings with Internews innovation and humanitarian staff who did not have direct experience with the box were also critically helpful.
The teams made their final presentation to Internews on September 9. Internews only gets 12% input into the final winner, who will be selected by a panel of judges and revealed tomorrow at the awards ceremony. However, Internews gets to decide what we implement, and it is already clear from the teams’ presentations that each one had excellent ideas. While the final version we choose will mostly rely on one of the team’s designs, we will definitely incorporate aspects of all of the designs. The next problem will be funding the new design, but that’s for another post.
Next up… the winner revealed.