On  May 24th 2018, the Ramani Huria team participated in the Humanitarian Development Innovation Fund’s (HDIF) Innovation Week exhibition at BUNI Hub Tanzania. The aim for this engagement was to showcase how innovation has helped Ramani Huria to conduct mapping activities in a more precise way,with minimal costs. The Ramani Huria philosophy, “local people, local tools, open knowledge”, encapsulates the power of innovation to equip local people with the information needed to transform their communities. 

The innovations of Ramani Huria that were showcased at the event 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.

Community Mapping

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 coordinnate 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 2.0 trained Wajumbe and community members to collect information in their own neighbourhood by using their own smartphone devices.

This method helped to collect an enormous amount of data in a shorter period of time when compared to RH 1. We call this “innovation” because this is the first time that the country has been mapped in a such detail by local community members themselves using their own devices. During breakout sessions at the exhibition, participants were amazed to see a flood map that was produced using data collected by community members themselves – the data is normally very reliable as they understand the neighborhood better than anyone else.    

Photo; Community mapping supervisor, Asha Mustapher, leads a round table discussion showcasing flood maps that have been produced through citizen generated data

Using OpenDataKit to collect drainage data

ODK is a famous application forin data collection, especially in the humanitarian field, but it has never been used for drain mapping but Ramani Huria has made this possible. Originally, ODK was designed to collect data points and not line features. The Ramani Huria team, however, made some improvements on the program to enable it to collect line trace features.. Read the blog about building open tools to map drains here.

Photos; The Ramani Huria team demonstrating drainage data that has been collected using local people and local tools. These drainage maps will help inform flood prevention plans

Using Arduinos and Barometers to measure elevation

Measuring elevation is very difficult and thus requires an established base of devices to make sure that the accuracy is high. 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 towards understanding how to accurately measure elevation which will ultimately increase the precision of current flood models.

Many 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. At Innovation Week, 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 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 the 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 the adoption of 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.   

Photos; Students from Delft University in the Netherlands and the Ramani Huria team explain how arduinos and barometers can be used to measure air pressure to calculate elevation

Drone development

This year, the Ramani Huria team developed a quadcopter drone – constructed 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 creating updated maps that can be used to plan for city flood resilience – an innovative approach tohelping community development.

Photos; Workshop discussions from HOT Tanzania’s Innovation Officer, Bornlove O. Ntikha, explaining the drone construction model and flood use cases 

Changing Perceptions through Innovation

Innovative tools used by local people using local knowledge have the power to increase civic engagement and empower communities to create impactful change within their own society. This has been proven through Ramani Huria, as the team has managed to collect precise flood data with the help of community members. We urge development partners to see the opportunity that arises from the community-driven data collection methods that we are using, in order to minimise the costs of running projects and increase impact by collecting first hand information from community members themselves.

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