I was the lead product designer on Dispatch Monitor, an online software platform that monitors the status of charity: water’s wells around the world. This platform uses remote sensor technology to helps us know the minute a water point stops flowing. With that knowledge our local partners can then send out the right teams to get the well up and running again. This is how we see the future.
Dispatch Monitor™ helps us use technology to tackle the water crisis in a whole new way and make sure we keep water flowing at charity: water project all around the world.
From the beginning we plotted each water project on Google Maps and made that information public. In 2012 we launched a $5 million pilot project partnered with Google to develop a remote sensor technology that could tell us the status of any of our projects anywhere in the world. The sensor is attached to the structure of the well and reads the water levels. It can tell us if water is flowing, if it is stopped or if the water is flowing slower than it should.
This technology allows everyone who implements a water project to be accountable for it, to respond when it breaks and to make sure that people who receive clean water keep having access to clean water.
Dispatch Monitor™ was created for charity: water admin staff and our local partners in Ethiopia. Designing a program that had to be built for cross cultural use proved to be complicated, but exciting.
Our first version of the platform was initially made to be purely for data visualization purposes for our charity: water programs team. As we started developing it, we realized it could be really impactful for our local partners to use our tool for data gathering as well. If our staff in Ethiopia was able to see exactly what water points needed fixing and their corresponding locations they could send their staff out to specific places.
Over the next few years, we’ll develop and install 4,000 low-cost remote sensors in existing and new water projects around the world.
This is huge for the entire water sector. Not only are these sensors capable of transmitting data from remote areas, they are also smart enough to learn the “normal” behavior of a well and report immediately when there is significant behavior change.
Now we’re focusing on helping our local partners to create schedules for their maintenance staffs and assign projects to specific team members. I’m am also partnering with one of our water program’s officers in Ethiopia to do remote user testing with the people who will be using this platform every day. It’s very exciting and I’ll continue to write more about this case study as the project evolves.