Have you ever been on your way to a job interview, or a friend’s place or even a local bar, and not been able to find your way? Usually you would pick up your phone, type in the address and then follow the arrow to your destination. Sounds pretty simple, but what if the place didn’t have an official address? This is the case in many places in Africa.  You could ask the way, and people will certainly try to help you. But, with a lack of knowledge of street names you will be told to “turn right at the blue kiosk, go straight past the grey gate, turn left at ‘May the Lord protect us’ drinking spot, and enter the blue gate, next to the mango tree”. (Or something equally as complicated)

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With mobile technology, GPS locations work, and maps work, but without an address, or at least a recognised address, it is still difficult to find your way. Enter SnooCODE. SnooCODE allows everybody to generate a 6 or 7 alphanumeric code a bit like a post code in the UK or Zip code in the US. Unlike the postcode and Zipcode, the SnooCODE is trackable by GPS to within 7 metres and enables represents the entire address. No need for street names or house numbers. When you type in the code, the map will show you directly to the door. They great thing is, it works in places that are very densely populated or in sparely populated village areas. It could lead you to a farm in the middle of the bush, or a drinking spot in the middle of a ‘slum’.

This is not just about finding your way somewhere, this is a system that assists e-commerce and last mile delivery and it could help track the spread of disease. This simple, clean method, could, and should revolutionise the address system in Ghana and further afield. It is unlikely that the address system in the UK will be transformed, but it would simplify a very old system. This app could be applied anywhere in the world.

slum.png
How would you find your way?

So, we have covered the addresses, you can find your way, and you set out on your journey. You turn off the main road and then you fear for the life of your car. The road is a potholed dirt track, that threatens to rip off the underside of your car. The road was either built poorly, built with substandard materials, warn away by the weather conditions, or a mixture of the three. So what can be done about this problem? (Zipline drones are dealing with this in another way)

Mobilized Construction has come up with a solution to enable locals to fix their own roads. In one community they they work in, local government is only able to fix one road a year. With 56 roads needing maintenance, that is a long time for some communities to wait! They employ and train locals to rebuild roads, working under a supervisor, without heavy machinery, which is expensive.

These roads are funded by a mixture of private individuals and firms and public organisations like the World Bank. Their app enables a supervisor to assign teams to particular responsibilities, measure and evaluate the progress in order to adjust priorities in real time. They also have mobile money integrated to make sure wages are distributed on time and to the right people, depending on how much they have worked, which is also tracked by the app.

This solution helps reduce unemployment, and uses the available labour force to maintain their own roads without the use of heavy machinery. It also has an enormous social implications. Taxis can get places faster and lower their fairs, pregnant women can get to the clinic on time and people can simply estimate their arrival times easier. These are not just donations, these are donations that are empowering people, giving jobs and skills and changing communities.

If you know of any more solar innovations in Africa or you would like to be a guest blogger please get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or email, and please also share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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