What happens when you cross Google Maps with TripAdvisor to chart essential services for slum dwellers?

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Photo: Members of KOLOROB team at a discussion session with slum children in Dhaka.

Save the Children is hoping to find out! In January 2015, Save the Children in Bangladesh won the ‘Urban Innovation Fund Challenge’ in a region-wide competition. The winning idea was to design an information visualization and feedback system to provide better information on what really matters to those who need it most.

Hard to imagine? Think of a cross between Google Maps—with useful information and maps for essential services, like health clinics, education centres, safe urban spaces, and more—crossed with TripAdvisor, to allow users to rate their experience and pass on valuable insider knowledge to others.

And voila – we have Kolorob – or কলরব in Bangla!

Kolorob means a ‘clamour’, but without the rough edges of the English word; Kolorob happens when people gather to chat with each other. We think this is a good name for a tool that takes the ‘clamour’—currently localized and confined to the few ‘in the know’—to the next level: a truly innovative virtual platform.

So Kolorob will be a virtual knowledge bank for slum dwellers to help them navigate their city using web and mobile applications. Users can also locate services in slums via a digital map—which will boast a feedback component—through kiosks in user-friendly community centres. Equipped with computers, internet, and room for gatherings, these safe spaces for children, especially adolescent girls, will host local facilitators who will offer information to slum dwellers.

Photo: Intense brainstorming during design workshop held at the Bangladesh country office.

Just over a month ago, the Kolorob team came together for the first time to begin the design process. David, our Urban Advisor from Save the Children Australia, along with colleagues from CRG, FSL and IT at Save the Children in Bangladesh, worked at a two-day Design Workshop. We agreed on a set of guiding principles, visited the slum communities in Mirpur (Paris Road and Bauniabandh) to gauge their concerns, and thought about how to make our vision of bringing slum communities better quality information a reality.

Keep up to date on our journey by liking our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @scib_kolorob!