Cities are the future for Bangladesh with estimations of Bangladesh becoming an urban country by 2039. The World Bank estimates that the urban population is likely to double in the next twenty years from 52.5 million people in 2010 to 98.6 million people by 2030.
Cities are the future for Bangladesh with estimations of Bangladesh becoming an urban country by 2039. The World Bank estimates that the urban population is likely to double in the next twenty years from 52.5 million people in 2010 to 98.6 million people by 2030. These migrants, moving into unfamiliar areas of a new city, suffer spatial, social and economic exclusion, limiting their capability to access opportunities and basic social services despite their desire to create better lives for themselves and their children. Our proposed response to this development issue is through the use of mobile technology, internet and visual mapping applications.
Kolorob’s innovative idea taps into the virtual space of ICT, creating an online platform and physical space to improve access to information on essential services for those who are ‘new’ to the city. We have created a service directory and interactive map to allow users to search and compare information. Our map allows users to find a clinic, or a school, or a government office that they may have otherwise not known about. As a user, you can also add new information to the app- updating details of an existing school, or adding details of a new employment opportunity. Most importantly, you can provide feedback on the services that you have paid for- answering such questions like was it value for money? Was it child friendly? Was the service you needed available at the health centre you visited? Are there any free services available?
We want to create a dialogue between those who provide services and those who use services- in a largely unregulated environment. We believe that our Kolorob tools- the service directory, the ability to compare information, navigate to location and ability to share views on a service, will ultimately drive up quality of provision- particularly for children- in the areas Kolorob targets.
Kolorob’s vision is to create an online platform and physical space that improves access to information on essential services aimed at reaching a large proportion of people living in poor urban settlements, with a focus on the estimated 2-3 million residents living below the poverty line in Dhaka. More specifically, Kolorob has the potential to impact the growing young population and social mobilisers within their neighbourhoods. Bangladesh already has 13.2 million social media users, which presents a unique opportunity to grow huge across Dhaka.
Kolorob is Bengali for ‘clamour’, but without the rough edges of the English word. In the local context, ‘Kolorob’ signifies when large numbers of people gather together to talk, exchange information and converse about their daily lives. The application Kolorob aims to create an open space for dialogue between those who provide services and those who use services, and thus can be described as a marketplace and information exchange for local people on essential services that they need in their daily lives.
The Kolorobian approach was built on the ‘spirit of volunteerism’ with young people driving the innovation behind the game-changing ICT idea to make into a reality. Young people from within and outside of the project site areas lead efforts in mapping the sites, collecting and uploading data, conducting the research, building the software and building the branding of Kolorob both offline, and within social media. Over 300 young people applied to participate in the ‘Map Your Community’ initiative, with 80 eventually being trained by a leading Bangladeshi GIS-mapping expert on how to collect and upload data from geographic locations and engage with people in communities. Twenty were then selected to participate in further activities alongside the Youth Facilitators, mapping and collecting data. The idea around having a community-centered design ensured that the team was working closely in consultation with community members in developing and delivering a product that is accessible, attractive and user-friendly to those who need it most.