With hundreds of people touching water taps daily, our team is quickly finding a solution to prevent the further spread of illnesses like COVID-19 in developing countries.
Imagine you live in a community of about 5,000 people and you don’t have running water in your home. So you or your children go to a nearby tap stand (picture a pipe with a faucet) to fill up 5-gallon cans to bring water home for the day. You might encounter a tap that leaks, that’s broken, and has been touched hundreds of times and may be a site for disease spread (such as COVID-19). Perhaps, it’s a reason for concern, but you and your family need water – so you touch the faucet anyway.
This is the exact scenario that came to Design Outreach’s attention in the spring as COVID-19 began spreading world-wide. It became apparent that a hands-free solution would be hugely beneficial to millions of people around the world.
Already, DO had designed and developed the LifeTap, a solution for tap stands that eliminates wasted water with a self-closing mechanism and is made of bronze, a naturally anti-microbial surface. However, the LifeTap still has to be activated by hand. DO Engineers started to ask the question – How could we make the LifeTap hands-free?
Building on the knowledge gained from developing the LifeTap, the DO team is employing a process known as “Human-Centered Design. ” This process focuses on developing a solution based on understanding the perspective of those who are experiencing the problem, considering their needs, and determining if the solution will truly meet their needs. This helps to ensure that when the technology is ultimately put in place, it will be accepted, adopted, and used.
The DO team set to work under guidance from DO Chief Technology Officer, Abe Wright, and Project Engineer, Naja Robinson. In order to begin exploring hands-free solutions and innovations in other products for ideas, they immersed themselves in what is called the “user context.” Wright and Robinson started talking to those close to users – in this case Africa Field Director, Beatrice Chisenga and LifePump Technician Dickson Wandawanda – both of whom are talking to communities daily about their needs.
In addition, the DO team interviewed organizations who could give them perspective on the needs/requirements for the solution including: Water Mission, Water for Good, the Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Surgical Hospital (ck), National Church Residences, a public campground and even a milk factory.
This market/user “intelligence” is the basis for developing user experience themes, insight statements, and the types of questions that need to be answered by the solution. It is then followed by a robust round of brainstorming that will generate ideas which will be culled down to the best ideas to proceed to the design and prototype phase.
That is where this project is presently. With brainstorming just concluding, the concepts that are the most potentially feasible and innovative are to be prototyped for further evaluation, possibly in the field by the end of the year.
Stay tuned to DO’s communications to follow the story as it unfolds!