With this statement, Mr. Blangson, technical director of the ministry of water in Tanzania, praised us for implementing majiSolutions.
In 2009, one of our team members, Johannes Schuricht, went to Tanzania as a volunteer for more than one year. There, he met Joerg Henkel, who is working for the Tanzanian Water and Sanitation Network. Together, they developed the idea of a software for mapping improved water supplies. When Johannes met Veronika, Matthias and Rene in 2010, he was finally able to realize the idea and they developed majiSolutions.
A Real-World Problem
In Tanzania, NGOs and the government capture data about the available water resources to coordinate the water supply. However, the data management is done manually, without IT support, thus lacking accuracy and reliability. In the current workflow, the so-called Water Point Mapping, the capturing of data is error-prone, the data is not processed, and there is no appropriate visualization for the data. To optimize the existing workflow, we closely cooperated with the local people who need access to drinking water, the water engineers looking after the water sources, and the Tanzanian government managing the over-all organization of water supply. As a result, we developed majiSolutions to support NGOs and governments in countries where the effective distribution of water is critical.
During development, which was supported by the dialog with several contacts in Africa, we learned a lot about the importance of Water Point Mapping. By now, the real impact of our application, first developed for the Imagine Cup 2011, becomes apparent. The feedback we got around the Imagine Cup from technology experts, industry leaders and, last but not least, the judges confirmed us on our way to enforce the idea and to even extend its initial focus.
Today - A Real-World Solution
majiSolutions consists of three integrated applications which support authorities in the water sector in Water Point Mapping: majiMobile, majiFramework and majiWeb. With majiSolutions, the current workflow is automated as far as possible and optimized in quality: For capturing information about water resources on the spot, it contains a Windows Phone 7 application, majiMobile. Afterwards, the data is processed by the majiFramework, a set of WCF services. This part is the heart of the system; it controls a database, analyzes the data, performs user management, and provides the data via Web Services. These Web Services are used by the third part of majiSolutions, the Silverlight Web application majiWeb, which visualizes the information in various ways and performs data management. We also provide forecast information about the development of certain properties (e.g., the water quality or quantity).
All these reports and visualizations are useful for organizations, governments, or sponsors to control and optimize planning and decision-making in a structured way (e.g., increasing the budget in areas where the money is needed). We address the local authorities with infrastructure management and also help the people in the villages directly (e.g., with a reporting system via SMS). With majiSolutions we support the Tanzanians with technology to optimize their work and solve their problems on their own. So we hope that we can continue helping governments making useful decisions. New water sources (e.g., similar to the water pipelines in Kenya) can be built based on our analysis and enhance the availability of clean water, followed by a better health and a raised standard of living for the whole population.
In comparison to existing software, we provide a real-world solution, tailored to the needs and demands of the local people. Furthermore, majiSolutions is an integrated application-set covering the whole existing workflow of Water Point Mapping.
The Vision of majiSolutions
First, we want to enhance the forecast accuracy about future situations by the support of automated mechanisms. At the moment this is often done by the workers themselves and without support of technology. Therefore it lacks accuracy and reliability. Our vision is to create an integrated solution, which figures out dependencies and associations in the data to describe the status quo and hereby enables solid further decisions.
And more to come: Imagine a system, which supports you during an information capturing process. Imagine a system, which can be modified depending on your specific needs. Imagine a system, which combines several concerns to figure out cross-cutting dependencies. Imagine a system, which is able to visualize all the information and analysis results. Imagine a system, which generates you a describing model of your status quo.
We do not only imagine we are building it!
Above, we described how majiSolutions can be used for collecting information about water resources. During development, we worked together with the Tanzanian government to implement all necessary requirements. Finally, we built a system, which is easy to maintain, not too complex, and, according to the authorities in Tanzania, "the answer" of their problems. Then, we had the idea not to restrict majiSolutions onto water resources. Can you also imagine a similar system for mapping electricity, schools, hospitals, etc.? But what would be even more useful is a system, which combines all such individual systems, to figure out dependencies in the data.
Hence, we spent a lot of time developing a generic data structure, which allows us to combine the results of different systems. This is an important task for governments or organizations, who are not only dealing with small projects, but who are interested in improving the overall situation. In the future, it is not only possible to carry out Water Point Mapping with majiSolutions, but to capture, analyze, and visualize data of arbitrary domains. For the technical realization, an additional tool, the majiConfigurator, was added. It is used to adjust the system to an application domain (e.g., describing the distribution of doctors instead of mapping water resources). majiMobile and majiWeb automatically adapt their interfaces to the adjustments made, and the majiFramework processes the data in the usual way.
majiSolutions -The Future
We introduced majiSolutions in Tanzania and got a lot of enthusiastic feedback and suggestions of improvement. In fact of the experiences we realized these and started to push majiSolutions from project to product level. During 2012, the final year of our studies, we will carry out pilot projects and promote majiSolutions. Together with the Tanzanian government we started to map water sources and we cooperate with Tanzanian universities to manage data of the education domain.
Having proven our solution in those pilot projects will attract the interest of further customers and enables us to offer majiSolutions as a product. For the takeoff, we get advice from a senior software developer and started cooperation with a German software company, EWo Soft. They will also support us with our next goal, establishing a startup company post-graduate to pursuit and promote majiSolutions more officially in the future. We will acquire new customers in other countries than Tanzania and target further domains. So we can see the real impact of majiSolutions and its analysis of the cross-cutting dependencies, which leads to a deeper understanding of the relationships in the developing regions. Thereby we can identify the basic problems and design a solution.