Concepting: Games!

This week we finally start a new phase in our project: concepting! After more than two months of doing extensive research we’re confident to create ideas for our final prototype. Like we said in earlier blogposts, our focus now is on Dry Waste Collection Centers (DWCCs) and their waste management processes.

Our project kicked off with thoughts of how to use open data in order to promote sustainable citizen engagement to improve the city of Bangalore. This commitment could be changing the city physically, like The Ugly Indian initiative, or by influencing planning and public policy.

We already gathered some bits and pieces of open data regarding DWCCs and Bangalore (the more the better! If you want to contribute in anyway, don’t hesitate in sharing with us ;). Now we’re aiming to generate some information and knowledge with this data. The question that remains is: how to promote some deep kind of engagement about such a complex topic?

Our final decision is this: we’re going to create a serious game about it! Yey! This is basically a game that doesn’t have just entertainment purposes but also can aid in learning and education, participatory planning and decision-making.

We conceived the city, together with the waste management situation, as a complex entity. A serious game is perfect for modeling its current obscure garbage condition, simultaneously providing an immersive way of engaging citizens.

So, we played some games ourselves to get some inspiration. We started with Settlers of Catan, an unusual type of board game, since the board can change in every game session. The main objective of the game is to manage different resources, like brick, wool, ore, grain and lumber, in order to build new roads, settlements and cities. This will lead the players to accumulate victory points, and the one who gets to 10 victory points first, wins.
Settlers of Catan!

Playing Settlers of Catan. Photo credits: Tanmayee Narendra


Another game we played is called Power Grid. The setup of this game is different from Settlers of Catan since the board has a fixed format. You role play a company that owns different kind of power plants, from coal to wind generated energy. Your goal is to own and power several cities across the country. In the board you see the country you play in (Germany), a market for the price of raw materials and how many cities each player owns.
Power Grid!

Power Grid! Photo credits: Tanmayee Narendra


I loved to play both games, it’s interesting how resource management happens on each of them and makes me think of possibilities for a “waste management” game.

After playing the games we created a preliminary system dynamics model about the DWCC. How the municipality, waste producers/collectors and recycling industries relate to each other and if they have positive or negative connections. This is an interactive process also, since we’re going to select the select a specific portion of this model to actually build a game around it.

Preliminary System Dynamics Model of the DWCCs in Bangalore


We started with some brainstorming sessions about possible audiences for the game and the main objective of the game. Audience can be DWCC managers or children in school, and objective can be something like: experience the consequences of lack of segregation or create awareness about waste responsibility. Like I said, we just started brainstorming, so hopefully next week we’ll have some concrete concepts to share here (:

Dry Waste Collection Centers, CISCO and further research

For the past five weeks we did quite some research regarding waste management in Bangalore. Last week we talked about the enlightening encounter we had with John, manager of one of the many Dry Waste Collection Centers (DWCCs) in Bangalore. This meeting was a deciding moment for our research. We noticed that a DWCC represents exactly what we  proposed in our first problem statement: a bottom-up approach to waste management in the city and also strengthens the legitimacy of the informal sector.

This week we made more decisions and presented them to CISCO on our second meeting. Another great encounter with them, we got interesting feedback and some tips of how to proceed with our research.


Dry Waste Collection Centers



Our next step is to get deeper in the DWCCs. After talking to representatives of Hasiru Dala, we found out that they give training for scrap dealers.  The curriculum involves financial aspects of running a scrap business, account maintenance, customer service among other important management skills. As a result, the trainee can become a service provider or even a micro-entrepreneur of waste management. After concluding the training they receive an official certificate and an ID card issued by the BBMP itself.


We’re also interested in the processes of DWCCs. Waste collection, waste segregation and waste disposal. How do they deal with waste that is not segregated? Does every DWCC also segregate or they just receive segregated waste? What happens with the waste after it leaves the DWCC? Who buys it? How many people work in each DWCC? These are just a few of the questions we hope to get answered in the next weeks.


One of the most difficult things to get our hands on is data. And when I say data, I mean good, clean data. Not information in a PDF format or some pictures of tables. We’re interested in data like: where are these DWCCs? How much garbage does each of them handle per day/month? How much they pay for each kilo of different materials? Which DWCC receives the largest amount of segregated waste? And which receives the smallest and why? Who manages each DWCC? Who should I contact if I want more information about the DWCC in my ward?


Lots and lots and lots of questions. We hope that if we engage these three points (training, processes and data), we’ll have a better overview of the DWCCs in Bangalore and what’s their real impact when it comes to waste management in the city.