Problem solvers of the world unite: an elegant new platform lets poverty fighters share their design-oriented solutions
Social media and other digital platforms have enabled the world's problem-solvers to connect and share solutions like never before. While much of that collaboration is diffuse, spread out across a multitude of websites, blogs, and social networking sites, a new platform designed by Ideo.org (the design consultancy's nonprofit arm) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to bring tips, ideas, and strategies together into one toolkit and discussion platform for people fighting poverty around the world.
The effort is called HCD Connect, and it's designed to open up the field of human-centered design—a technique that uses close listening, empathy, and observation to design solutions for people in extreme poverty—to anyone who needs it. According to its website, the HCD toolkit helps field researches working with farmers in a remote village or entrepreneurs in an urban slum "ask the right questions," lead workshops, and "increase the speed and effectiveness of implementing solutions."
The toolkit is available in hard copy for $21.99 or as a free download. But beyond the useful information, the "connect" part of the project's website provide a social network for practitioners of the method to share stories of their experiences and collaboration. You can search by location or topic to find someone's work that could inform your own: If you're working on water purification in Malawi, perhaps it's relevant to see what's happening in India, for example. Eventually, the platforms' users will be able to apply for microgrants for work focused on agriculture.
Watch Debbie Aung Din Taylor, founder of Proximity Designs, a social enterprise that helps design water collection systems and other products to support rural economies in Burma, speak about her success with human-centered design below.