Midhu Sasidharan Unnithan Vasumathy

Eram Scientific Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Deputy General Manager - Research & Development
midhu@eramscientific.com

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PROBLEM

When applying UCD to sanitation, describe a problem your organization was trying to solve?

Poor unhygienic public sanitation or public toilets in India

 

SOLUTION

What solution did you design to solve the problem?

Unmanned and automated toilet systems (eToilets) with remote monitoring and managing facilitator

 

WHAT WORKED WELL

What part(s) of the UCD process did your organization do very well?

  • Knowledge of user:
    • expectations
    • behaviours
    • challenges in public toilets of different user groups
  • Knowledge of issues and challenges in the existing public toilet system

 

WHAT DIDN'T WORK

What part(s) of the UCD process did not go well?

Too technical, engineering and aesthetic focused

 

TOOLS AND FRAMEWORKS

What UCD tools or analytical frameworks did you use?

  • User surveys
  • End user feedback
  • Brainstorming
  • Deep dive exercise and prototyping

WHAT WAS REALLY HARD

What were your biggest struggles?

  • Understanding user preferences and behaviour of using a toilet
  • Change of user preferences according to:
    • geography
    • gender
    • cultural barriers
  • Getting site and utility connections from authorities for a public toilet

 

BIGGEST A-HA

What was your biggest a-ha moment?

Preference of government and CSR organizations changed normal public toilet to 'eToilet’ (electronic toilets). Initially it was very hard to sell the concept of technology-enabled sanitation solutions like eToilets to the government and decision makers. However time proved this technology to be superior than the existing systems in terms of sustainability and O&M and they themselves come forward to install eToilets instead of normal toilets. Now some of the government organizations are asking for electronic toilets in their requirement specifications/tenders.

 

MY PIVOTS

So then what? What did you do? Discard the idea? Change course?

Development of multiple prototypes installed at different locations which were accepted by the users and who started using this as a normal toilet

 

TIPS

What advice would you give other organizations?

  • Engagement of users and stakeholders in the early stage of product development
  • First study the actual requirement of the user and go ahead with the systematic process of design. The resulting product will be very user friendly if we user insights are incorporated into the product
  • Check for various barriers among the user during the development stage (geography, gender, culture, behaviour)