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Sanitation Sector Innovations: Insights from smartphones in Vietnam

12 minute read
The Vietnamese government has decided not to ask for a loan from the World Bank to use to purchase its resources. Unless you obtain digitally authenticated evidence, no paper, Captures using smartphones, Prove that adequate infrastructure for rural water as well as sanitation has been established and that it is functioning properly.
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One cannot believe what one hears in Vietnam unless one sees it with the naked eye.

The Vietnamese government has decided not to ask for a loan from the World Bank to use to purchase its resources. Unless you obtain digitally authenticated evidence, no paper, Captures using smartphones, Prove that adequate infrastructure for rural water as well as sanitation has been established and that it is functioning properly.

Two recently conducted PforRs programmes have made it clear that the purpose of using smartphone networks is to verify results.

Traditional monitoring and evaluation methods have relied on frontline paper reporting to the administrative system. But the use of smartphones synchronized with cloud computing solutions, Allows the results to be extracted quickly to validate them and lends a kind of transparency to their governance, As well as to prioritize support actions when needed.

Improving the quality of water and sanitation facilities has a significant impact on the quality of life of the community, When government funding is used to support these two important axes, How can a results-based mechanism be used, Based on the effective verification tools used, To motivate and move forward with these desired results?

What is the justification for using smartphones to inspect toilets and water systems?

A simple act such as taking digital images of physical infrastructure can in turn generate an effective chain of transparency and accountability in order to make a greater impact in the country.

Using a smartphone constantly to check the infrastructure of water or sewer networks helps shed a stronger light on the issue.

Is there a checklist of health and construction points that should be checked? It is possible to reduce risks and enhance the efficiency of operations by emphasizing the safety of the actual performance of the system and not only the way the infrastructure is installed.

Synchronizing smartphones with cloud computing is highly measurable . The use of open or subscription software and applications means that these platforms can be tailored to the nature of key local concerns and adapted to address the most important challenges.

Data collection should be focused, Especially the aspects of analysis and visual perception of them, on the goal you are pursuing.

What actions have been taken in this area?

In order to verify the results, employs the Vietnamese Regional Water and Sanitation Programme for Results, A unique cloud-based platform.

Participants can use several types of smartphones to complete the shooting based on a verification protocol that is simple but systematic and clear at the same time.

Even if the application is out of internet coverage, It works normally but synchronizes the image later when connected to the internet. These features are the core features found in all user applications used by millions of young and old in Vietnam.

Within the cloud itself, The platform provides a simple set of quick analytics, Which can be implemented remotely from anywhere in the world.

If the picture shows any problem, field staff can be quickly directed to make the necessary updates.

How can the use of this type of tool and platform be generalized?

The register of verifications of the results of the imaging of the water network infrastructure in Vietnam, received from smartphones, noted that there are some key components in measuring the scale of digital transformation adopted by governments, Especially if the starting point is still based on the context of operations and paper-based documentation.

However, Governments are more inclined to use paper-based processes. One colleague joked: "We like IBM because manual use is better than automatic.

By "manual", the speaker means that it is paper-based, Some bureaucrats argue that digital workflows may disrupt the government's traditional ways of doing business.

Part of this resistance to change may be attributed to the issue of digital illiteracy. But it could also result from the concern of some that technology will replace traditional ways of accomplishing government tasks. Including some cases of corruption.

To accelerate digital transformations, consider the following:

  • Cloud-based platforms and service technologies now offer multiple options for quickly and successfully executing transformations. But even when it fails, They fail at a lower cost than investing in traditional monitoring and evaluation systems and computing equipment.
  • Cloud implementations allow platform designs to focus on clear outcome measurements and ensure that data is properly aligned with digital workflows to aggregate a set of important metrics, Rather than starting the design of dispersed monitoring and evaluation systems projects.
  • Cloud-based platforms, libraries and "standard" services allow governments to focus on designing better, simpler experiences. Including conducting rapid trials and tests.
  • The data generated by smartphones, and other similar sources, can be verified quickly, They can also be further exploited in data analysis and visualization, By placing them, for example, with satellite data.

Within the framework of cultures that adopt paper processes, Information technology has always lacked a clear purpose, Its designs have always been user-centric.

Therefore, Most applications are ultimately poorly designed, Instead of focusing on important cutting-edge features, It consists in identifying what field staff should take pictures of and present.

Monitoring and evaluation systems are designed to meet the needs of individual projects, Give them a sense of full compliance in order to implement them.

The question we should ask is the following: Which design innovation can generate the best mutual bilateral opinions and comments? Given technology such as telemedicine, Can a smartphone image provide clear insights from key resources based on these captured images, So instead of accumulating more data, Which are often poorly studied by indicators?

The use of paper manuals remains a preferred option in the policy and regulatory framework, The government or development partners stress the importance of drastically reducing the burden of reporting from local levels.

Therefore, often produces additional data, But they are of tremendously low quality and value. Further analysis and visual visualization is also often neglected. This reinforces the feeling that data is a formality, not a powerful and important tool.

But at the end of the day, We just have to believe what we see; by leading the process of designing more flexible digital applications, Widespread digital transformation will become the new reality embraced by governments.

Better sanitation for the future

Recognizing the importance of better progress in the provision of water and sanitation services is a journey of smart investments and behavioural changes for stakeholders, Increasingly, however, digital insights are helping us to foster progress in this direction.

As we saw in Vietnam, The mere filming of the country's sanitation infrastructure using smartphones was a huge initial leap.

Source: This article was written by Kai Kaiser and Lillian Pena Pereira Weiss. Publish the article Original by the World Bank .

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