Arriba: Nuevos amigos y contactos después del Foro Mundial del Agua 2018 en Brasilia.
Llegando en la madrugada a Brasilia, me amaneció cuando sonaron fuertes golpes en la puerta de mi habitación. Fuertes! Y luego una voz: “Carlos, vienes a la inauguración del Foro Mundial del Agua?” El llamado de mi buen colega de Akvo, Bert Diphoorn
. Así lo conocí, dando la aireada primera llamada para comenzar una gran semana de contactos con entidades nacionales, internacionales, de gobierno y organizaciones civiles presentes en el evento de mayor trascendencia en materia de agua a nivel mundial. Una semana cargada de sabor carioca, sonrisas y una muy buena energía. Ese día, el Lunes 18 de Marzo, inició el Foro Mundial del Agua 2018. Además de las cinco sesiones en las que participaría Akvo, teníamos nuestro espacio en el Pabellón Holandés para contar la experiencia que hemos acumulado en la última década. Una vitrina para buscar replicar los casos de éxito en Latinoamérica. Read More »
Above: Cycling in the Netherlands. Photo by Jana Gombitova. 01 May 2018.
Cycling is so popular in the Netherlands that we cycle even the shortest distances. It’s simple – you hop on your bike and go. Besides, the infrastructure of the city is designed first and foremost for bicycles, and the dedicated bike lanes ensure that you’re always shielded from other traffic. In my hometown in Slovakia, I didn’t cycle often. It might be as simple, but the lack of infrastructure for bicycles means that it’s less safe. In the Netherlands, the constant investment in design solutions for the safety of cyclists means that riding a bike is as secure as it is easy.
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Above: Data science by Goran Ivos on Unsplash.
The cooperation between Akvo and ICCO Cooperation goes back to 2012 when ICCO piloted Akvo Flow in Indonesia. The use of Flow led to a huge boost in the quantity and quality of information gathered. Economic empowerment and food security are at the heart of ICCO’s work, and information regarding farmers’ earnings, community eating patterns, crop growth and various other characteristics led to a better understanding of what does and doesn’t work in ICCO’s programmes. The wealth of data, however, also led to new questions and new possibilities.
Akvo and ICCO set up a joint learning trajectory to tackle some of these questions. Instead of performing a standard analysis of data and summarising it, we reached for more advanced statistical methods. Using data science techniques on the data we’d already collected, we could improve the design of surveys, capitalise on best practices and lessons learned, and discover hidden patterns in the data.
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Above: A look through the lights by Nong Vang on Unsplash.
In the development sector, it’s the people that the interventions aim to reach that are best placed to reflect on the success or failure of a project. End users, broadly defined here as the users of a product or service, have the greatest understanding of local context and should be instrumental in steering development projects by providing feedback, critique, and input throughout.
The engagement and participation of end users, and their feedback within the design, implementation and evaluation of projects, has been a key focus of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). With end-user feedback, dialogue can be established between evaluators and users and lessons can be learned. What’s more, innovations and ideas that might not occur to development organisations can be put into practice, and end-user ownership can be established. End-user ownership is essential because it supports transparency and accountability in overall project implementation as well as enhancing sustainability opportunities. Read More »
Above: Photo of Pinocchio from Pexels.
The Akvo engineering team has bought into the idea of an immutable data log as the backbone of our architecture, which we hope will make it easier to integrate Akvo systems and build new functionalities. More importantly, it will treat data as a first-class citizen; as the valuable thing that it really is. Read More »
Above: Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash.
Empathy has a special place in our product development processes at Akvo. We love doing user research to listen to our partners needs first hand, and often ask a lot of questions to get into our partners’ shoes. We are interested in everything, but especially in how our partners interact with our products and what their biggest challenges are.
Our conviction is that building empathy with our partners through user research, field visits and other activities helps us contribute to the success of our partners. We continuously work with partners to figure out how our tools and services can help them achieve their desired impact. Akvo Lumen is just one piece in the puzzle of our design – capture – understand – share – act process, but it’s an indispensable one. Without the analysis and visualisation of collected data, it would be difficult to take action, learn and report on past experiences.
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Every morning for breakfast I used to have a slice of gluten-free toasted bread. I’d squash an avocado on it, add a splash of lime juice and lots of salt and pepper. It was my favourite breakfast. I loved it. I would look forward to having it every day. Sometimes I also had it for lunch. It made me happy. And then one day I was suddenly done with it. That last avocado lay in my fridge for weeks until I threw it out. I couldn’t even bear to think of it. I wasn’t sure why, but it just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
Something similar happened to me at Akvo. Over the last year, I fell out of love with the Akvo brand we had so carefully created. It used to be exciting, have an edge, always moving forward and changing, but it wasn’t working for us anymore. We tried to work out what the problem was. Imagery was one, but our experiments weren’t taking us anywhere interesting. Also, the hexagons were starting to feel limiting, and our website felt out of date. Everything was getting a bit stale.
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Above: The road by Thomas Baron.
2018 is here, and the Akvo Flow team are looking forward to another year filled with improvements, so that you can continue scaling your data collection projects in a simple way. Before I share a peek into the ideas we have for this new year, here is a little summary of what happened in 2017.
Scaling your data collection
Our number one goal in 2017 was allowing you to scale your data collection with Flow. We improved Flow’s technical architecture to make it a faster and more reliable tool so that you don’t have limitations when capturing data. Besides fixing bugs you shared with us, we also improved the overall performance of Flow. Have you created a large survey form with more than 100 questions in Flow? Now it will show up within two seconds, rather than the everlasting 15 seconds it took before. Read More »
Above: Akvo’s open source badge, designed by Thomas Bjelkeman-Petterson and Anke van Lenteren.
At Akvo, we believe that open source software provides substantial benefits for organisations in the international development sector. Nowadays, we expect a high quality and rich feature set from any software that we use. Thanks to open source software, relatively small organisations and development teams are able to build sophisticated and feature-rich applications by virtue of gluing together pre-existing open source software components in unique or specific ways. To be able to reuse all those pieces is awesome, as it is a lot less complex to assemble existing components than it is to create them from scratch. Read More »