On the 24th May 2018 Ramani Huria participated in the Humanitarian Development Innovation Fund’s (HDIF) Innovation Week exhibitions conducted at BUNI Hub Tanzania. The aim was to showcase how innovation has helped Ramani Huria to conduct mapping activities in a more precise way but with minimal costs. The Ramani Huria philosophy, “local people, local tools, open knowledge”, encapsulates the power of innovation to empower local people with the information needed to transform their communities.
The innovation that was showcased included; community mapping methods and the discovery of Shina boundaries – Ten cell administrative boundaries, local quad drone development, drainage mapping using ODK, and measuring elevation using arduinos and barometers.
During its kick off in 2015, Ramani Huria worked with Ward and Subward leaders together with university students to collect data in local districts, but it was discovered that the community did not feel comfortable responding to third parties when it comes to sensitive information. For the second phase of Ramani Huria, RH 2.0, the team started to work with hyperlocal leaders called Wajumbe, who work at the most granular level of administration system that exists in Tanzania. These leaders are responsible for small portions of the Subward and the community knows them well. RH 2 started to train Wajumbe and community members by using their own smartphone devices to collect information in their own neighbourhood.
This method helped to collect an enormous amount of data in a shorter period of time compared to RH 1. We call this “innovation” because this is the first time that the country has been mapped in a such detailed level by community members themselves using their own local devices. During breakout sessions the exhibition participants were amazed to see a flood map that was produced by using data collected from community members themselves – the data is normally very reliable as they understand the neighborhood better than anyone else.
Using OpenDataKit to collect drainage data
Originally ODK was designed to collect data points and not line features, Ramani Huria decided to use ODK to help in mapping drains by making some improvement on the ODK program for it to be able to collect line trace features. ODk is a famous application in data collection especially in the humanitarian field but it has never been used for drain mapping but Ramani Huria has made this possible. Read the blog about building open tools to map drains here.
Using Arduinos and Barometers to measure Flood Elevation
Measuring elevation is very difficult and hence needs an established base of devices to make sure that the accuracy is as high as possible. Students from the University of Technology of Delft in the Netherlands are working on building tools to measure elevation. So far a lot of progress has been made to understand how to accurately measure elevation which will increase the precision of current flood models.
Many of the environmental noises such as sun, wind and rain have been inspected and can now be taken into account. The absolute error of each sensor is now known and can be calibrated to one point, which has to happen every time a measurement is taken. The team explained that the relative error needs more time to be fully understood and taken care of, but they are now discovering more filters which work and can be used to minimize this error. In the upcoming weeks the Ramani Huria team, led by the students from Delft, will begin field experiments using an android app which is able to read the arduino and sensor. The app already consists of a IIR filter (infinite impulse response) which filters the measurements to make the data more workable. The next task will be a server that collects all the data of those phones to a platform so these can be used easily and can be looked into at any time of the measurement. Participants in the workshop were impressed by the potential for cheap, locally made devices to determine accurate elevation levels and contribute to more accurate flood models and subsequent mitigation measures.
Ramani Huria developed a quadcopter drone made locally by our own Tanzanian staff with the vision of collecting updated clear imagery taken at low altitudes with higher resolution. This imagery will be useful in making updated maps that will be used to plan for city flood resilience. This innovation will be useful to help the community development perspective in aerial approach for the development.
Changing Perceptions through Innovation
The general aim of Ramani Huria through participating in this exhibition was to expose the public to local devices and innovative methods. Innovative tools used by local people using local knowledge has the power to increase civic engagement and empower communities to create impactful change within their own society, just as Ramani Huria has managed to collect precise flood data with the help of community members. We urge that development partners should see the opportunity that arises from the community-driven data collection methods that we are using in order for them to minimise the costs of running projects and increases impact by collecting first hand information from community members themselves.