Sustainable Innovation

By Joseph
  Published 17 Jul 2012
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The International Design Development Summit (IDDS) is an annual, hands-on summit organized by the MIT D-Labthat engages both students and professionals from different backgrounds in developing technological solutions and enterprises for emerging markets.
This year, the IDDS Summit is being held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 1st to 31st July, 2012 and it will be the first bilingual and locally organized IDDS summit.IDDSstrongly believes in the idea of co-creation: the concept that it is better to provide communities with the skills and tools to become innovators and develop new technologies themselves rather than to simply provide the technologies. This is because the capacity for innovation and creativity is critical for long-term sustainable improvements in the quality of life in a community. One of its goals is to demonstrate a model where a user-based community of active, creative designers can invent, innovate and inspire each other to create new technologies. IDDS is now in its sixth year, with previous summits having being held at MIT in Boston (2007 and 2008), Ghana (2009 and 2011) and at the Colorado State University (2010).The first week of the summit involved an introduction to the concepts of design; through design activities and continuity discussions that were held at the University of Sao Paulo. This led on to 'Build-it' activities in creating mobile community engagement platforms, a water pump, a living machine for waste water treatment, a mobile battery charger and a bici-blender(a blender run on a bicycle).  
Community engagement throughout the design process stands out as a distinguishing feature of IDDS. For this reason, community members from the focus areas came in to speak about the situation on the ground, the challenges and possible avenues of innovation. A visit to the cooperatives was also conducted to get insight on how to observe, try and ask when collecting information about a community. This involved going to thecatadoreswhere garbage is delivered, sorted and collected by companies that recycle waste.The participants then broke off into the following teams: Sanitation and waste water treatment Eco-friendly brick making (Sustainable construction) Recyclable waste processing Low-cost flooring in the fazelas Leisure and entertainment for young people in thefazelas Urban gardeningIT/Financial planning At the start of a project the teams were required to consider the team dynamics, how different people work, as well as carry out a stakeholder analysis in addition to community cluster meetings to ensure that the users are engaged right from the start. Stakeholder analysis involves looking into who has the biggest influence in decision-making while not forgetting to identify and engage vulnerable groups in the process.Being part of the sanitation team, I spent the second week with my team inBairros dos Freitas,on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. Our first challenge was identifying the problem by carrying out a visit and a series of surveys with the community on the sanitation situation at hand. InFreitas, people close to the river have their sewage pouring into it and contaminating the water.On higher ground most residents have pitlatrines that the Government regularly empties. These pit latrines lead to saturation of the ground with sewage over time thus posing a health risk in the area.
Our task was to come up with a problem framing that would change the behavior of the people and the mechanics of the current system in place.We often asked ourselves: What makes a good problem? Our interest needed to be in problems worth solving and which we could actually do something about while thinking about what is important for the continuity of the project. Our problem was framed as:The river and ground are contaminated with sewage which pose both an environmental and health risk. There is therefore a need to develop an affordable and efficient waste management and treatment system that can be scaled up, down and out to suit different household More on the Conference will be posted soon.
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