Paper, Scanners, Toilets, and Nairobi Slums

Paper, Scanners, Toilets, and Nairobi Slums

Sanergy Recording DataEven though people call me “Mr. Paperless”, I have long maintained that there can be some very good reasons to use paper, and this amazing project is a perfect example.

As you may or may not know, the majority of Nairobi’s population live in slums, and lack of sanitation (and the diseases that come along with that) is a real problem.

A company called Sanergy is trying to do something about this by creating low cost toilets and franchising the operation to residents. This is a double win: the sanitation problem is tackled, and the entrepreneurs have a chance to earn an income.

What caught my eye about this project is the way that they collect the usage data, and Vera Solutions has an excellent writeup about the project.

The safest and most effective way is to have the data recorded on paper. Instead of manually keying in the numbers as they have in the past, they scan the documents[1] and use Captricity to digitize and extract the data. I’ve written about Captricity before.

As Vera says:

Captricity’s learning algorithm, which makes the program more accurate with greater use, has ensured increasingly fewer data entry errors and saved staff hours of time each week. Instead of taking almost five hours to enter a single day’s waste collection data, it now takes fifteen minutes. Not only is Sanergy’s data more real-time than ever, but the extra 20+ hours each week that staff have gained now goes towards quality control, greater supply procurement oversight, and operational support. Most importantly, Sanergy’s field staff can continue to serve the local community without having to risk their safety.

Really interesting project, and it shows what you can do when you adapt the tools to the environment.

(Photo by Sanergy)

  1. Using a ScanSnap S1300i, I notice!  ↩

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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