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Koordinasyon Birimi

2015-09-01 United Kingdom: Sustainable Hi-Tech for the Developing World

Sustainable Hi-Tech for the Developing World

Description of the project offered:
How many hi-tech projects in the Developing World are still working, five years after the project completes?

In the Developing World, there are many, many initiatives and projects putting out hi-tech solutions to everyday problems. This includes electricity minigrids, solar-powered water pumps, medical devices, refrigeration, technology for education and training, and communication networks. The good news is that they are really changing life for the better. The bad news is that without skilled attention, over time they will fail.

If we are to take on the awesome responsibility of changing peoples' fundamental way of life, it is absolutely essential that we do this sustainably. We must not walk away from any project until we are sure that effective maintenance processes for the foreseeable future are in place. Our responsibility does not end when installation is complete – that's when it starts! As the old ways will inevitably be forgotten once the new system is up and running, if we can't set the new system up to be self-sustaining, in principle for ever, we must think twice about whether we should even start.

The (hopefully long and sustainable) operational phase is not the most glamorous part of any project. An individual installation may need attention once or twice a year – but if it's the only water pump in the village, or it's a live high-voltage wire lying across the street, or the school has to close because the children can't be taught, the crisis may be immediate and demand an instant response from a skilled engineer with the right spares.

In the worst scenario, neither the old ways nor the new system work anymore, and the net result is that our intervention has actually made things worse. This project proposal is to make sure that this awful outcome never happens!

The lack of 24/7 monitoring is not only a reliability and health and safety issue, but also a worry to investors, who know that a catastrophic failure could wipe out their investment.

Because individual systems are widely dispersed, and rarely go wrong, providing a skilled and effective response at short notice is challenging. However, the first step must be to make the person with the solution aware of the problem – no matter when, where or how rarely it occurs
Communications networks have solved this problem – but only for themselves – by using the communications network itself to report issues automatically and support remote diagnostics. However, there is no reason why this has to be restricted to communications networks – the technology will now allow any device with a small amount of electricity available to enjoy remote management – as long as there is someone available to talk to. For example, a low data rate Inmarsat link can now fit on a single chip – but it still needs someone to phone!

This Proposal
A comprehensive service network of geographically dispersed and suitably skilled equipped engineers takes time to build up. This proposal is for a less ambitious first step, namely the creation of a First Response Centre (FRC), which can be located anywhere in the world where there are effective telecommunications, affordable manpower and the right language skills. This will be manned 24 hours/day, 365 days/year, and will provide a service to any project – no matter how small – to guarantee an intelligent and resourceful response to any situation that may arise. In return for this service, there are some obligations on the project:
• They will provide the monitoring centre with a list of telephone numbers of engineers who can be despatched at short notice – and commit to keeping this up to date. They will also have an escalation list, so that they can contact senior managers if no engineer responds, or if additional resources or management decisions are required.
• They will put the phone number of the centre on the door of the locked equipment closet. Ideally, the language(s) supported should be indicated (see mock-up below). 
• It is very desirable that the project should equip each system to be monitored with a means of remote communication – either a cellular telephone modem or an Inmarsat modem – and if necessary a small solar panel and battery to power it.
o The remote monitoring kit may spontaneously phone the centre to report an alarm condition, and/or it may respond to a routine polling call from the centre. The data rate will be low. 
o Communications standards will need to be developed and agreed. 
o Inclusion of a GPS receiver is highly desirable. This will both inform the field engineer despatcher where to go, and also aid in theft recovery.
• Unless a separate service company with the necessary geographical distribution is contracted to provide the engineers, it will still be the responsibility of the system constructor and owner to ensure that sufficient engineers are available within a sensible travelling distance, that they have the necessary skills, tools and spares, and that they organise an effective rota of keeping their phones on. 
• An agreement must be made between the Monitoring Centre and the system operator for payment for this service. There will be a fixed monthly/annual fee for monitoring, and an additional fee may be needed per exceptional event. This must be built into the business plan for the operational phase of the project.
• Target response times will be agreed (a Service Level Agreement), to give investors and users who rely on the system the confidence they need. 
• A mechanism should be put in place that requires the engineer to report back to the monitoring centre with the outcome of his intervention.
If these requirements on project implementers seem onerous, they shouldn’t – as if they are responsible, they will be doing them anyway. All the First Response Centre is doing is making them more effective, and easier to implement.
Project proposer:   Chris Moller (United Kingdom)
Partner role:  Project coordinator 
Partner organisation:  Consultancy