PWX Releases App for the Sanitation App Challenge -- Measuring Public Sanitation Use

Addressing the global sanitation crisis, the Peer Water Exchange's app helps see how well our efforts to solve public sanitation in urban areas around the world are faring and helps decision-makers going forward.

March 3, 2013

The Issue - How Are Public Sanitation Facilities Serving The Public?

Many public and private sanitation facilities have been constructed. Some are elaborate with bathing facilities and others have waste treatment and biogas recovery. Some are free and others are pay for use.

We can see many of them are not being used fully; we would like accurate data about what impact they are having and why;
    - How many people are using them?
    - What revenues are being generated?
    - Are there any patterns in usage?
    - How do maintenance, cleanliness, odour, lighting, water, etc. impact usage?

While we do know that the coverage is inadequate, we need answers to these important questions:
    - How many people are not being served?
    - How many facilities we need to build? Where?
    - What are the facility features and quality that attract users?
    - What are the actual maintenance costs?

The Solution - Use SMS to Track Usage

Peer Water Exchange released an SMS based application to track urban sanitation usage at public and private pay-per-use sanitation facilities PWX SANtraX allows an operator to send data that can be instantly tracked. The operator can send data daily or even hourly. Our service initially tracks three parameters:

    1. Number of male users
    2. Number of female users
    3. Amount of revenue

Additional parameters such as water usage and treatment can be easily added. In addition, the Notes feature can add context thru text, photos, and video to any data.

SMS Instructions - Demo Finished!

Send an SMS to: +91.9266592665 (India). In USA, send to: 898932 (TXTWEB). The format is:

  @pwxdemo   s1680   m[# of male users]   f[# of female users]   r[revenue]

s1680 assigns the message to our demo project. Replace the [italics] with any number you like. Please do not leave the brackets and do not introduce spaces between the category and the number. Here is an example:

  @pwxdemo     s1680     m1400     f1984     r3624

You will get an acknowledgement SMS from PWX that the information was attached to the project report successfully.

Seeing the Results

Please go to project page and click on the metrics tab to see the results, which are updated in real-time.

Another powerful feature is visible on the graph. Organizations can set thresholds for each metric to highlight when it is below a specific value and/or when it is above a specific value. For example, if water quality is being monitored, the pH has to be within a certain range, while arsenic has a value above which it is a problem, and bacteria are either present or absent. In our example we want to know if too few or too many users are reported.

The Setup

A project has to exist in PWX for the data to be attached to. We have created a fictitious public toilet (shauchalay) in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India for the purpose of demo'ing this app.

For any facility that wants to be tracked, we will be happy to create a project space for the facility.

International SMS Rates

Today we only have incoming SMS numbers in India and USA. Based on demand, we can introduce local SMS services to avoid international SMS rates.

Android App Coming Soon

In the next few weeks, an android app will be released with additional functionality such as the ability to add photos and use of GPS to pinpoint the facility.

About the Sanitation Issue

Search results from the India Water Portal listing relevant articles.

About the Sanitation App Challenge

PWX was a winner in the 2011 Water Hackathon. Details about the 2012-13 Sanitation App Challenge can be seen here.
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