Conclusion of IWR 2014

This post was authored by Richa Gupta during an internship at Fields of View.

(Please read the previous blog ‘The Inclusive Wealth Report 2014’ on Inclusive Wealth Index)

These two reports have led to the development of several recommendations for the included countries. These include the incorporation of Inclusive Wealth into planning post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the evaluation of macroeconomic policies (such as monetary and fiscal policies) based on IWI rather than on GDP per capita—as this would ensure sustainable and long-term, rather than purely short-term, growth.

Additionally, nations experiencing diminishing returns (that is, the decrease in marginal output) of natural capital are encouraged to invest in reforestation, agricultural biodiversity, and renewable natural capital. Moreover, as said by Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, director of the UNESCO / Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, “The report is a tool for making macroeconomic decisions on what and where to invest”. And lastly, as written in the Inclusive Wealth Report 2014, “The inclusive wealth index is […] a complement to GDP, not its replacement. The shift to sustainability as a core development pillar demands an index that can quantify, measure, and track sustainability”.

However, although the IWI is a better indicator of economic growth and prosperity, it still has its own limitations. For example, it does not factor in happiness levels, suicide rates, life satisfaction, and the accessibility of housing. It also doesn’t take social capital of a country into account; social capital is a form of economic and cultural capital wherein goods and services are produced for a common good rather than for selfish interests, and transactions are characterised by trust, cooperation, and reciprocity.

In addition, natural capital is often difficult to accurately price. For example, the UN cannot include common access resources like clean air—since it is not directly owned by anyone, and is available for people to use without payment. Hence, when the Inclusive Wealth Index is computed, only natural capital with a market price can be included (such as petroleum, gas, metals, and timber). The Economist suggested another example: bees create honey, which can be sold on the market. But they also pollinate nearby apple trees, a useful service that is not purchased or priced. So, calculations of the Inclusive Wealth Index will invariably be rough, unless economists make a conscious effort to quantify the value of clean air, pollination, and the myriad of others.

But despite its limitations, the concept of Inclusive Wealth has been widely embraced, since it represents development based on concern for the environment and future generations. And it has been predicted by Professor Dasgupta that eventually, people will drop the adjective “inclusive”, and will only call it “wealth”—since, after all, economic wealth is not synonymous with solely income, but also with human capital, the environment, and sustainability.

 

The Inclusive Wealth Report 2014

This post was authored by Richa Gupta during an internship at Fields of View.

(Please read the previous blog ‘The Inclusive Wealth Report 2012’ on Inclusive Wealth Index)

The Inclusive Wealth Report of December 2014 covers information from 140 countries, and was released in New Delhi, India. It laid a special emphasis on human capital. The report concluded that 85 of the 140 countries were producing sustainably, in terms of inclusive wealth, while the consumption patterns of the 55 others were considered unsustainable.

The report also found the extent to which human capital and natural capital are huge indicators of wealth, as compared to only produced capital (which is accounted for by the Gross Domestic Product). For instance, while global GDP rose by 50% from 1992 to 2010, the IWI rose by a relatively paltry 6%. As said by Dr. Partha Dasgupta, chair of the 2014 Report’s science advisory group, “vast losses in natural capital (and small increases in human capital) largely explain the anaemic overall growth in Inclusive Wealth worldwide despite enormous gains in produced capital”.

Components of Global Inclusive Wealth, from 1990 – 2010

Type of Capital % of total Inclusive Wealth % change from 1990 to 2010
Produced Capital 20 + 50
Human Capital 57 + 8
Natural Capital 23 – 30

The following statistics also show the extent to which the Gross Domestic Product is an inadequate standard of a nation’s wealth and prosperity:

As can be extrapolated from the December 2014 report, in the US, India and China, wealth measured only by GDP (from 1990 to 2010) rose by 33%, 155% and 523% respectively.

However, when measures of the social values of natural, human and manufactured capital were considered, the USA’s Inclusive Wealth Index rose by 13%, India’s by 16%, and China’s by 47%—over the same span of time. These are gaping disparities, and provide an indication of the narrow scope of the Gross Domestic Product. The statistics of a few other countries have been tabulated below:

Country % change in GDP from 1990 to 2010 % change in Inclusive Wealth from 1990 to 2010
US +33 +13
India +155 +16
China +523 +47
Ecuador +37 –17
Guyana +97 –2
Qatar +85 –53
Tanzania +67 –37

 


 

The Inclusive Wealth Report 2012

This post was authored by Richa Gupta during an internship at Fields of View.

(Please read the previous blog ‘Measures of Wealth and Prosperity’ on Inclusive Wealth Index)

 Inclusive Wealth = (social value of manufactured capital) + (social value of human capital) + (social value of natural capital)

Natural capital encompasses the world’s stock of natural assets, such as fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas), minerals (bauxite, nickel, copper, iron, zinc, etc.), agricultural land (croplands, pasturelands), and forest resources (timber and non-timber forest resources). In the context of Inclusive Wealth, human capital comprises of education and health, and manufactured capital consists of equipment, roads, and machinery. Another variable used to compute IWI is its health capital, which includes health capital by age, and probability of dying by age.

So, rather than being ranked in terms of GDP, countries are ranked according to inclusive wealth. To take an example, USA’s inclusive wealth was almost $118 trillion in 2008 (with prices at those of the base year, 2000), whereas its GDP was only a fraction of that value. So, this observation implies that the USA is rich in either human capital or natural capital, or even both (in this case, it is human capital).

 

Country 2008 Inclusive Wealth ($ tr) 2008 Real GDP ($ tr)
United States 117.8 14.7
Japan 55.1 4.8
China 20.0 4.5
Germany 19.5 3.7
Britain 13.4 2.8
France 13.0 2.9
Canada 11.1 1.5
Brazil 7.4 1.7
India 6.2 1.2

Source: United Nations, World Bank

As written by the Inclusive Wealth Project, “The index measures an asset’s wider value to society, and not the price for which it could be bought or sold”. Professor Partha Dasgupta was one of the specialists who came up with the IWI; he criticised the GDP for neglecting the social value of natural ecosystems, and also observed that while the GDP and HDI indicators were rising for most of the third-world countries, their sustainable economic development (i.e., the approach that fosters economic growth while preserving environmental quality) was negative, except in the case of China. As said by Prof. Dasgupta, “Adam Smith did not write about the GDP of nations, nor the HDI of nations; he wrote about the ‘Wealth of nations’. […] Leading economics journals and textbooks take nature to be a fixed, indestructible factor of production. The problem with this assumption is that it is wrong: nature consists of degradable resources”.

The first Inclusive Wealth Report was released in 2012, and included statistical data from 20 countries. It is the first of a series of biennial reports, whose twenty included countries accounted for approximately 56% of the world’s global GDP, from 1990 to 2008. It was a core project by the UNU-IHDP (United Nations University’s International Human Dimensions Programme), in collaboration with the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). Before and after the 2012 report was published, the following statistics were noted:

 

Country % growth in economy from 1990 to 2008, based on GDP % growth in economy from 1990 to 2008, based on IWI
China +422 +45
USA +37 +13
Brazil +31 +18
South Africa +24 -1

This implies that these four countries substantially depleted their stocks of fossil fuels, fisheries, and forests—while simultaneously raising their Gross Domestic Product. Moreover, while India was ranked second in GDP per capita, according to the IWI report (with a 4.3% per year increase in GDP per capita), it ranked 6th in the Inclusive Wealth Index per capita, with a positive growth of 0.9 % per annum.

The following diagram, as published by the Inclusive Wealth Index website, depicts the per capita growth rate of IWI of the 20 countries (according to 2012 IWR). As can be seen, Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia experienced negative IWI growth rates—and were hence deemed unsustainable.

Furthermore, it was observed that although 5 countries (Colombia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela) portrayed positive GDP per capita and HDI, they had negative IWI per capita growth rates. This depicts the deficiencies of not only the GDP, but also of the Human Development Index Hence, this graph also illustrates the importance of measuring economic health based on the IWI.

Day – 2 Global Goals Jam

Day -2

Day 2 was about prototyping. There were exciting brainstorming sessions and discussions to design interventions for the  problem statements identified by each of the teams. The teams produced different prototypes that modeled their intervention, which included a booklet, videos, and visualizations.

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The design interventions the teams came up included:

  1. An institutional framework to provide micro-entrepreneurs with timely credit after a natural disaster
  2. An activity module for students that would spark discussions on gender perceptions
  3. A handout ‘Leave to Stay’ on easy-to-implement policies to make an organization gender inclusive
  4. A reframing of the craftspersons and artisans so that they are seen as a champion of sustainability — and how the Indian craftspersons and artisans can provide an alternative way of conceptualizing sustainability in India.
  5. A competition — ‘Attack the Pack’ to spark research and innovation in designing ecologically safe and economically viable packing materials and waste management processes for FMCG companies

 

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The two-day high energy jam then ended with the participants demonstrating their prototypes, and thought-provoking discussions on what support these interventions needed to move from a prototype stage to a fully developed product stage.

Day 1 of the Global Goals Jam at FoV

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a United Nations initiative and they came into effect from January 2016. The 17 SDGs form a set of Global Goals with 169 specific targets to be achieved before 2030. These 17 Goals build on the successes of the previous 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focusing on inclusion, collaboration and cooperation.

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Global Goals Jam is a world wide jam being held across 15 cities across the globe where creative teams of designers, developers and jammers from the local community would come together and brainstorm over a two-day sprint to deliver innovative solution prototypes focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For the India jam, we had 18 participants from different backgrounds, including arts, social sciences, technology, development and design.

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1.       Pallavi Sharma Photography, design, art
2.      Mohit Varyani Development studies student APU
3.      Vaishali Rao Energy, livelihoods, social entrepreneurship
4.      Anisha Nazareth IT, Sustainable sities and communities
5.      Agam Arora Design
6.      Sucharita Eashwar Enabling women’s entrepreneurship
7.      Miguel Computer Science
8.      Arzu Mistry Artist, educator
9.      Subir Rana Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnography
10.  Madonna Thomas Architect, Urban design, public transport systems
11.  Olga Alexandrova Sustainability, agriculture
12.  Tejas Shah IIIT H
13.  Morgan Campbell Urban Planning, public policy, Gender, transport
14.  Brindaalakshmi K Marketing and communications
15.  Jayasimha K IT
16.  Tushant Jha Cognitive science
17.  Sabira Lakhani Waste management, circular economics
18.  Aakarsh Sustainable cities

 

The Jam began in the morning at 10:30am with a short briefing and introduction to the UN SDGs and the Global goals. The participants were grouped into 5 teams and they focused on SDG 1, SDG 5, SDG 11. They were also introduced to the Fields of View methodology to design for complex problems. The Fields of View methodology involves a guided process involving two phases — the problem articulation phase and the design phase. dscn9891

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The participants went through both the phases today with great success. The first phase, i.e. the problem articulation phase, involves participants working through different activities that lets them generate a common problem statement.

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The problem articulation phase is then followed by the design phase, where the participants work together to imagine futures and figure out how to design for these transformations.

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Day 2 will follow with prototyping and presentation of the same by the respective teams.

Fields of View turns 4!

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The door is ajar, slightly. It is a moment of anticipation, that tiny space of time before something happens. In between lists, trips, emails, and meetings, something stills. Pauses. The possibility of someone to come. The promise of conversations.

We turned four-years-old last week.

Over the past four years, we have built a foundation, a foundation based on a culture of curiosity and camaraderie. We hope to build on this foundation and there’s a strong undercurrent of excitement underlining this moment of anticipation – of ideas becoming real and conversations turning into collaborations.

For the third consecutive year, we have been featured in the Global Go To Think Tank Index Report by the University of Pennsylvania that ranks public policy research organisations worldwide in the ‘Best New Idea or Paradigm developed by a Think Tank’ category. (http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=think_tanks)

We wish to thank all of you, without whom the journey so far would not have been possible.

Warm regards,
The FoV team.

P.S. We have a new website : http://www.fieldsofview.in/

Field visit of Bellandur lake – ‘Why are Bangalore’s lakes foaming?’

Bellandur Lake – Field Visit

Our visit to the lake was spread over two days, Oct 21st and Oct 22nd, 2015, to understand what the people who live near the lake understand about the frothing issue. The first day, we walked from the Bellandur bus stop through the busy (with motor vehicles) Outer Ring Road and equally busy (with a mix people and vehicles) Lake Road.

Location of Bellandur Lake in Bangalore City

Image 1: Location of Bellandur Lake in Bangalore City

Map showing the corresponding site locations as mentioned in the narration

Image 2: Map showing the corresponding site locations as mentioned in the narration

Location 1: Our first encounter of the lake was an outlet canal running southwards towards Varthur Lake. As we walked past the bridge above this outlet canal we came face to face with the white water due to foaming. This foam however looked milky white from far away and hence was romantic with its snowy look. But once we moved close to it, we were repelled by the smell and the need to protect ourselves from the flying foam. This moment reminded us of the warning issued in various newspapers that the water and the foam were extremely hazardous. Another strange sight was that the canal bank and the bridge that had turned black. This could be due to the burning of the foam and their continuous exposure to the foam.

View of the Outlet from the bridge with foaming water  

Image 3: View of the Outlet from the bridge with foaming water (On the right: Blackened bund wall)

Location 2: There is a traditional worship area on the bund below two large trees, which we encountered after crossing the road. The road that connects Outer Ring Road and HAL road is exactly on the bund of the Bellandur Lake. On the other side of the road (opposite to the bridge and even the worship spot), you can spot a huge residential development (named Lake View). We are unsure if the foaming issue has had any impact on the real estate market.

worship area                 

residential development

Images 4 and 5: The Worship area and the residential development (On the right: the canal)

Foaming on the slop

Image 6: Foaming on the slope of the outlet

Further, we noticed that the foam formed after the slope and had not formed where the water was still in the lake. The water in the lake was not foaming, however the water was turbid and black. Hence we felt that the foaming of the lake was not an accurate statement; the issue is better described as foaming in the outlets of the lake.

Location 3: On walking further on the road, we came across a temporary settlement of migrant labourers, mostly from Bihar. They were working in a new development coming up, and we saw that the settlement was made by filling a trench. Further filling was happening on the other side of the road. The labourers had said that the lake had ‘ganda pani’ (dirty water) and could not be used for any domestic purposes. They got water from tankers and were satisfied with that supply. This was the end of the first day trip, as it had already become dark. The next day we started from the settlement and found some residents from the settlement who informed us that this was a serene view of the lake and they had seen two girls taking pictures of the lake. However they were not much worried about the lake since they were new to the place and thought that the sewage from all over city came and fell into the lake.

Location 4: On walking further we came across a teenage boy (Ravi) from Yamlur who was collecting vegetation from the fringes of the lake using a small boat. When asked about the lake, he insisted that the lake is not too hazardous since he had been collecting vegetation daily and it had not harmed him. He stated that the vegatation was used as feed for his cows and the cows had no strange reactions after  eating the vegetation. The boy insisted that he could not stop the collection since it was his livelihood. He further stated that the newspaper reports were hyped. Meanwhile his father also joined him and asked him to speed up since it was getting late. The boy’s father was also sceptical about the reports in the newspapers and not concerned about using vegetation from the lake while the water was foaming in the outlets of the lake. Meanwhile, an old man also came to speak with us on his own accord, claiming to live just across the river. He said he owned some goat, chicken, etc. He said that his uncle had moved to Yamlur from Chennai (then Madras) in the 1950s to benefit from the prosperous Bellandur lake. He felt that the lake was the source of livelihood for many not only in the past but continued to be so. All these local residents and dependants of the lake along with a passerby confirmed that the lake continued to have a thriving aquatic life, particularly fishes which were captured fortnightly. 

Vegetation extraction       

Boy with his single bunch

Image 7: Vegetation extraction         Image 8: The boy with his single bunch

This reminded us of a news article that the locals were now hesitant to consume the fish; rating the fishes from the lake as poisonous.

Location 5: On walking further we found a tender coconut vendor in an isolated locality. He had moved recently from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu and owned an oldpaper business just behind his vending spot while carrying on coconut vending as an additional business. In the same premises where he runs his business, there was a new construction for a bar which would be owned by another owner from the locality. The tender coconut vendor also owns a water tanker which depended upon the water extracted from a tube well. The vendor was also dependent on this water supply for his domestic uses (except for drinking). He claimed that he didn’t have any problem with the water and found it to be clean (in spite of the tube well being very close to the lake – minimum of just 10 feet). However he was more concerned about the foaming on rainy and windy days since the foam got carried away and though it felt as if it was snowing, it was actually unsafe. He said that the foam was carried from the northward outlet canal which was nearby (beneath the bridge before Yamlur) and spread all over the area affecting the daily routine of the residents and the commuters. The lake road was said to be one of the busiest stretch connecting the HAL road with Outer Ring road in Bellandur. He was also aware that the water went to the Krishnagiri reservoir through outlet canals and said that he had witnessed the water in that reservoir and claimed it looked dirty but not as much as Bellandur’s. He was also satisfied with the fact that his native town would not be affected by this polluted water since they used cauvery water from Hogenekkal and ground water.

Outlet northwards near yamlur        

Foaming after the slope

Image 9 : Outlet (northwards) near Yamlur   Image 10: Foaming after the slope (beneath the bridge)

Location 6: On further moving north of the road, we reached another outlet (northwards) where the water sloped below the bridge and foamed after the fall of the water into the outlet canal (just beneath the bridge). The water was black, turbid and had a foul smell. The foam was thick.

Location 7: But immediately after the slope and flow normalized to a clean flow after around 500 metres where the water flowed smoothly.

Foaming in the outlet canal       

Reduced foam since the flow is smooth

Image 11: Foaming in the outlet canal       Image 12: Reduced foam since the flow is smooth

Location 8: We then returned back on the same path and observed that even though we could not find any inlet into the lake we could see some inflow into the outlet canals from the localities. We found some solid waste also thrown into canals. Even though this did not affect the lake, it affected the quality of water in the canal and hence the downstream.

  Suspected outlet pipe from the new development

Image 13: Suspected outlet pipe from the new development 

Sewage flow into the south outlet canal and solid waste thrown near the bridge  

Image 14: Sewage flow into the south outlet canal and solid waste thrown near the bridge

  Domestic Sewage flowing directly into the south outlet canal 

Image 15: Domestic Sewage flowing directly into the south outlet canal

Everyone we met blamed the sewage water which is pumped into the lake from the growing city. Since the inlets were not visible from the road, we were not able to get an idea of the condition of the water coming into the lake.

Weekly Recap: Short + Sweet

Last week was quiet sort of week at Fields of View: Bharath + Harsha are still in Europe, Sruthi was in Delhi pitching Convers[t]ation and Ankita + Tarun were tied up with exams. On most days there was only four of us in the studio; seriously, you could hear a pin drop (and that’s saying something in India). Oh, and Iain made the decision last week to go back home to the UK. He’ll be working on the project both from the UK and Amsterdam, which means that he’ll be spending lots of time with the Dutch team. In the meantime, Lisanne has been pushing the project forward: she’s been working on the UI + video chatting with Amsterdam in order to sync up our work as much as possible.

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UI: Take one.

For the UI front, you can head on over to our Tumblr to see more.

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Amsterdam’s design in progress!

As for working with Amsterdam, they’ve got meetings this week with different companies (Ekko, Sims Recycling) that they’re hoping to pull in as stakeholders for their project. They’ve told the companies about our work as well (specifically the Smartbin) + they’re definitely interested. So who knows: maybe we’ll have more crossover between our projects than we could have ever imagined. We’ve also been bringing the designs of the two platforms closer together by sharing the typefaces, colours + iconography that we’re using.

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Iain’s last day at Fields of View: Working ’til the last minute.

Well…. that’s about it. Super short + sweet, but what can you do when everyone is busy pitching and testing and whatever else? We’re gearing up for a busier week with a Cisco meeting on Thursday, so, catch ya later.

Weekly Recap: Prototyping and More

It’s been a pretty great week! We’re getting closer to the end of our project and things are going by pretty fast! This week Tarun and I sort of finalized a prototype description of the bin. It seems doable on paper so time to put our electronics skills to the test. Lisanne and Iain worked on the platform and came up with a beautiful clickable prototype (it looked beautiful to my not so trained eyes) that covers most of the features of the platform.

The two of us IIITians have been time pressed and unable to go the FoV house much (actually at all). Sigh. The bane of course work. Thumbs up for education though! Lisanne and Iain made coming to IIIT part of their schedules to fill us in on everything. Also, IIIT does have the best tea ever. I dare you to try it and not fall in love.

We had our Cisco meeting this week (after a fantastic lunch at their cafeteria). Everyone appreciated our Internet of Bins (I can’t get over how awesome that name is) platform and bin prototype and we got good feedback to think about. Amsterdam has a very similar concept – platform based – to ours. So for the first time in the Design Across Cultures programme we’re having prototype collaboration and sharing backend and frontend elements with different end use. Barcelona is doing some pretty cool research that focuses on smart city trends.

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Kickass visual from our presentation by the very talented Lisanne.

We’re also partner hunting. We’re hoping to marry off our Internet of Bins concept to ELCITA, grand Indian style. We should be meeting with them soon! It would be incredible to see everything we’ve been working on actually get implemented in Bangalore – the ultimate satisfaction.

In other news, Tarun and I have a semester end exams the coming week – *says a mental prayer* – and after that we’ll be all set to build our bin and hopefully make it in time for the next presentation.

Double Weekly Recap

We’ve been having a pretty crazy time as we’re getting closer to the final stage our project. The past two weeks have been crazy, it’s been work work work. In the previous sprint, we presented our idea to Cisco and they were pretty appreciative of our concept and with all the progress we made. Just a recap: We presented our idea about the platform and the bin, which would serve as the digital and physical components respectively.
Ankita and I have also been busy with college (we have exams coming up) so we divided work amongst the four of us. Lisanne and Iain are focused on outlining and building the platform, while Ankita and I worked on the physical concept – the smart bins (more on these later!). Our goal for this sprint (which is coming to an end soon) was to create a clickable prototype for the platform and have rough design of functionality and aesthetics of the bin.

Lisanne developed the wireframes for a visual representation of the skeletal framework of the platform, while also working on the general front-end with Iain’s help (who is handling the backend of the platform and is very chilled about that). There was some research done into how we can visualize the informal sector as ‘legitimate’. We weren’t able to go to FoV this week what with classes and quizzes being forced down upon us (We’re freaking out about exams).

We sort of figured out what we would require to build the bin, enabling it to communicate with the platform. The platform aims to bring transparency into the post consumption cycle, so we decided on having a timeline, that would track the e-waste as it goes through the cycle. Also, it would connect citizens the informal sector as the citizens would be able to request pick-ups through the platform.

This week, Lisanne had a meeting with Hasirudala, and gave them a walk-through of the platform and the bin concept. That meeting left us with a lot to think about (and a lot of unanswered questions). We also have a meeting scheduled with ELCITA, who have shown interest in our project. Yay! The Amsterdam team have found a company named Eeko that they are hoping to work with. They’ve created a survey to sort of do some more user research and maybe test some of the features of their concept.

The platform has taken a more solid shape since last week with the further development of the wireframes as well as a more cohesive visual language. The Internet of Bins is taking shape! We used the PSI model (Problem space, Social space, Institutional space) to figure out requirements, purpose, and limitations in creating the prototype and a possible usable model.
We have come up with a design (I am finally putting my electronics skills to use, yes!) to equip the bin with sensors, to detect when the bin is full/when something new has been dropped off and accordingly let the bin communicate with the platform for a pick-up request.

There are still some issues that are hard to handle – like designing the bin to prevent theft of potentially valuable e-waste. Hopefully we’ll be able to get good feedback on what we’ve come up with so far and to see if it makes sense to implement in the Bangalore context and make necessary changes. We should have our bins in prototype action soon!

Tarun